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Seeking to Establish Ecological Construction Materials and Standards in the Middle East

May 26, 2020 Read time: approx. MinutesMinute

A Role Model for Sustainable Building

WACKER and Dubai Municipality Demonstrate Energy-Saving, Internationally Standardized Technologies in Action with Two Model Houses

Day-time temperatures ranging from 35 to 40 degrees Celsius between May and September, and practically zero precipitation – without air conditioning, the sweltering summer heat in Dubai is almost unbearable. Large areas in the region are covered in concrete following the building boom in recent decades. And given that air conditioners use vast amounts of electricity, energy consumption in the United Arab Emirates has risen dramatically.

WACKER and Dubai Central Laboratory (DCL), the municipal standards and quality assurance authority, launched a project to tackle one root cause of the problem: poor energy efficiency in construction materials and building methods. In a joint initiative, the partners are seeking to establish ecological construction materials and standards in the Middle East. To this end, two model houses have been built on DCL’s premises.

Model houses in Dubai

Only one of the two is an environmental role model: the two model houses on Dubai Central Laboratory’s premises.

“This project underscores both organizations’ commitment to green building on a regional level.”

– Mohammed Sanaobar, Regional Technical Director, Wacker Chemicals Middle East

Sealed on All Fronts

The two houses facilitate a comparison between conventional and sustainable construction. The first house is insulated with EIFS (Exterior Insulation Finishing System) and painted with low-emission VAE-based (vinyl acetate-ethylene copolymers) interior paint. VAE was also used in the polymer-modified tile adhesives and waterproofing membranes. The joints are sealed with WACKER® WN – Weatherseal Neutral, a weather-resistant, silicone-rubber-based sealant that complies with international standards for ecological construction and sealing materials. The other house has not been insulated, conventional interior and exterior paints were used, and the doors and windows were sealed with regular materials.

The data captured by DCL staff in both houses provides a continuous record of the energy consumption, interior and exterior temperature and humidity, and the total volatile organic compounds in both houses.

The evidence speaks for itself: The sealants on the windows and doors of the conventionally built house are cracked and have yellowed under the harsh ultraviolet rays of the Dubai sun, while the facade and seals of the sustainably built house are still intact and blemish free. The water stains on the ceiling and walls of the house built with conventional materials provide visible evidence of poor resistance to precipitation and condensation.

By contrast, WACKER’s SREP® Systems (silicone resin paints) with core-shell particles for exterior applications are characterized by excellent water- and dirt-repellent properties. They are vapor permeable, prevent quality losses during application and increase dirt resistance by approximately 25 percent.

Low VOC Emissions

The energy-saving model house with EIFS differs sharply from the house without EIFS in terms of energy efficiency and carbon footprint. Project results so far show that using thermal insulation can reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions by some 60 percent. Despite higher energy consumption attributable mainly to air conditioning, room temperatures in the uninsulated house frequently rose to 28 degrees Celsius, while the temperature in the insulated building remained almost constant at 23 degrees.

In addition, the WACKER materials selected for the energy-saving model house include a VAE-based interior paint and silicone sealants that contain particularly low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). This building’s VOC emissions were reduced to peaks of less than 0.800 ppm (parts per million) and less than 0.500 ppm on average.

DCL has already started revising the environmental and sustainability standards for construction materials based on the findings of the study. The new regulations will use specifications and applications methods for WACKER products as a benchmark – especially for EIFS and low-VOC paints.

Construction site of a skyscraper in Dubai

“As a leading producer of construction chemicals, we believe it is our responsibility to offer the local sector sustainable construction solutions, push forward the development of standards, and ensure the highest possible product quality.”

– Cyril Cisinski, Managing Director of Wacker Chemicals Middle East

Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems

Exterior insulation and finish systems (EIFS) made of polystyrene or mineral wool applied to the facade can reduce the energy consumption of a building to a fraction. They reduce heating costs in cold regions and electricity consumption for cooling in hot regions.

When constructing an EIFS, VINNAPAS® polymer binders ensure:
• Better adhesion of the insulation panel to the substrate
• Optimized flexibility and impact strength resistance
• And water-repellent impregnation, especially of the plaster and the paint.

Breathable silicone resin paints based on SILRES® BS binders can be used to paint the exterior. They protect the EIFS from saturation and sustain the insulating effect.