Did you know that buildings in the EU account for more than 40% of the European Union’s energy consumption? It is a tragic state of affairs when we are told that it is our beloved homes which are cheating us of our money, as traditional building designs waste huge amounts of the energy that goes into heating them, and of course the money which goes into paying for this energy. But have no fear, polyurethanes is here to once again save the day!
One of the most important applications of polyurethanes in buildings is insulation. Polyurethanes, with all its glorious qualities, can dramatically reduce heat loss in homes during the cold winter months and play an equally important role during summer in keeping buildings cool, which means less air conditioning.
Sure, you might consider insulation within roofs, and maybe in wall cavities, but have you ever thought about the insulation found under your feet? Floor insulation is an equally important part of the building, and yet it is all too often dismissed! But as an integral part of the Passive House features, getting floor insulation right can make all of the difference!
It is in its role in floor insulation that polyurethane truly has its shining moment as it takes the stage in not one, not two but three different forms!
Firstly, we have our polyurethane boards, which comes in the form of rigid polyurethane foam of 250mm (23 mW/mK) to cover the pipes on the concrete slab. Polyurethane boards allow an even thickness of insulation, higher insulating performances and allows for the direct application of floor finishing (which could also be a nice polyurethane laminate, or polyurethane faux-wood material by the way!). The very low thermal conductivity of polyurethane boards and optimal airtightness allow minimum heat loss. Overall the expected U-value of the ground floor will be extremely low (0.1 W/m2K).
The second type of polyurethane foam we find ourselves presented with is polyurethane spray foam (27 mW/mK), which is applied directly between the concrete slab and floor finishing. We also use polyurethane “one component foam” to fill those gaps, making all the difference in the floor’s insulation and your energy bill.
What could possibly follow next? Finally, we have a special mortar made of 90% recycled polyurethane granulates which is applied below the polyurethane boards (23 mW/mK) to cover the pipes on the concrete slab.
All three were recently installed at our very own Passive House in Brussels, Belgium on Monday, 15 April. The idea behind using all three, rather than applying the same type of polyurethane floor insulation on each level, was to showcase the benefits that polyurethane insulation provide no matter what route you take! So there you have it; the solution to cost and energy savings could be right in front (or should we say below) you!