Dubai Central Laboratory (DCL) and Wacker Chemicals Middle East launched a sustainable house study over a span of twelve months to investigate how silicones and polymer-modified construction materials can reduce energy consumption and enhance living conditions in air-conditioned buildings in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The project, which supports UAE’s ambitious goals to cut the country’s carbon footprint by 70%, has been designed to contribute new insights into how to comply with and enhance Dubai’s Green Building Standard Al Sa’fat. According to the study’s key findings, the building insulated with a highly effective External Insulation & Finishing System (EIFS) showcased a 59% reduction in energy consumption. DCL intends to use the results of the study to enhance Al Sa’fat regulations in Dubai.
During the 12-month project, two model houses were built on the premises of DCL. They provided a comparison between conventional and enhanced construction materials under local weather conditions. The application of the building materials focused on three key areas: exterior wall elements, interior walls and as well as interior flooring.
The conventional model house was not insulated, was painted with standard wall paint, and the doors and windows were sealed with a standard non-silicone sealant. The sustainable house, on the other hand, was equipped with an External Thermal Insulation Composite System (ETICS) also known as External Thermal Finishing System (EIFS). It was also built with WACKER-enhanced products, such as silicone resin emulsion paint (SREP®), polymer-modified cementitious waterproofing membranes and tile adhesives, solvent-free flooring based on hybrid silicone technology, and interior paint based on the company’s vinyl acetate-ethylene (VAE) dispersions.
During the study, data such as energy consumption, interior and atmospheric temperature and humidity, and the concentration of volatile organic compounds (VOC) were recorded continuously in order to determine the performance of both houses in terms of living comfort and energy savings. Key findings were as follows:
• The model house equipped with an External Thermal Insulation Composite System (ETICS) was air conditioned to a room temperature of 23 °C. It consumed over 59% less energy than the non-insulated house. This translates to a reduction of almost ~60% in carbon dioxide emissions.
• Despite identical air conditioning and higher energy consumption, the temperature in the non-insulated house repeatedly rose to 28 °C, whereas the temperature in the insulated house remained almost constant at 23 °C. The same holds true for humidity: the humidity level in the non-insulated house varied between 40% and 85%, while the humidity level in the insulated house ranged between 70% and 80% most of the time, and peaks never dropped below 60%.
• The total amount of volatile organic compounds (VOC) was considerably lower in the model house. Measurements show that the VOC content inside the treated sustainable model house was 0.276 ppm. This more than complies with the Al Sa’fat standard of 0.3 ppm for interior VOC emissions in residential buildings. The results show that using low-VOC paint based on WACKER’s vinyl acetate-ethylene (VAE) technology and WACKER silicone sealants strongly contributes to a significantly improved quality of life.
Further investigations also indicated that the silicone sealants used to seal windows and doors remained clean, intact and blemish free while sealants used in the other test house were strongly damaged by environmental influences such as heat and UV radiation. What is more, walls treated with silicone resin emulsion paints showed reduced dirt pick-up of around 25%. Silicone resins repel water and dirt extremely well, are breathable, and therefore prevent paint deterioration.
“WACKER is one of the largest silicone manufacturers worldwide and a leading producer of polymer binders and additives. Our extensive knowledge and R&D facilities enabled us to lead this project together with DCL, reaffirming our commitment to the construction industry and a sustainable future for all living beings,” added Wacker Chemicals Middle East managing director Cyril Cisinski. “Energy consumption in housing has become a particular focus of attention, not only for the people, but also for many governments around the world. With DCL taking into consideration the new findings which could enhance current Al Sa’fat guidelines, we will continue to support the authorities in regulating and setting industry standards, and in continuously improving local construction materials.”
WACKER in Dubai
WACKER set up its local subsidiary Wacker Chemicals Middle East in Dubai back in 2000 and has been operating its own sales office there since then. A technical center has been available to regional customers and partners since 2002. In 2009, WACKER moved to the “Dubai Silicon Oasis” technology park. Spanning nearly 13,000 m2, the new location houses technical labs as well as the WACKER subsidiary’s offices for the Middle East sales region. In spring 2010, WACKER additionally established a local branch of its international training and competence center, the WACKER ACADEMY, at its technical center Dubai. From Dubai, the subsidiary serves customers in the Middle East and Africa.