Tecnalia. Inspiring Business

Tecnalia. Inspiring Business

TECNALIA and SIFS ally to build façade and roof temperature monitoring infrastructure for near-eastern climates


Building Envelope Analyzer monitors the thermal performance of building elements in real conditions when exposed to hot climates, like those of the Persian Gulf

TECNALIA is currently taking part in the design and construction of a new benchmark infrastructure in the United Arab Emirates, consisting of a large-scale climatic chamber used to monitor the thermal performance of façades, roofs and windows in the extreme weather conditions of Gulf countries.

In recent years, the real thermal performance of building envelopes (particularly isolated façades and roofs) has diverged from the reference conditions used in calculations, simulations and laboratory testing. There is growing demand from consumers and public agencies to demonstrate and understand energy performance under real conditions of use.

Inaugurated in 2010, TECNALIA's experimental Kubik building is a pioneer in Europe in this regard and has been used for demonstration and test purposes on dozens of façades, roofs, windows and solar panels.

TECNALIA has now allied with Smart Insulation Finishing Systems (SIFS) to design and build the Building Envelope Analyzer (BEA), a new permanent facility located at SIFS headquarters in the UAE. What makes BEA special is that it is the first of its kind designed for the hot climate of the Near East, using a large heat chamber to simulate the dynamic climate conditions of the Gulf, with a large oil burner to represent the thermal effect of solar irradiance. The chamber contains three identical cells, maintained in comfortable interior conditions. Each cell has two surfaces (façade and roof) exposed to the heat chamber, which are used to monitor temperature, heat flow, internal conditions, and air conditioning use for cooling. The infrastructure is fitted with a network of sensors and a data collection system that monitors and stores all these values, along with a technology tool kit for automatic processing and display of real-time data.

The infrastructure is fully functional and the first tests have been running since summer 2020. As well as being an aid for SIFS to develop its own capacities and products, it will also make it possible to investigate the performance of new insulators and products in real conditions, monitor power consumption in real time and study return on investment using more accurate numbers. Its advanced display capacities also give customers, architects, public agencies and the scientific community a credible demonstration of energy savings.

The ultimate aim of SIFS and TECNALIA is to raise awareness regarding the important of building envelopes and show their real impact on energy consumption and user comfort.

Energy efficiency is a growing concern worldwide, with several Near-Eastern countries now incorporating consumption reduction requirements into their building regulations. Nevertheless, due to the fact that, to date, almost all scientific and regulatory developments have originated in North and Central Europe and North America, current assessment methods tend to concentrate on cold climates.

Prevailing methods and standards, including the much-lauded passive house, are based on the assumption that, as heat escapes outwards, the predominant requirement must be heating. Accordingly, their aim is to minimise leaks and keep heat in. However, the desert climate of the Gulf area is characterised by intense solar irradiance all year around, as well as extreme temperature variations, with differences of up to 40-50 degrees in the summer months. It is therefore necessary to develop specific methods and analysis capacities for hot climates, along with constructions solutions adapted to local climate and building traditions.

Further information

UAE-based Smart Insulation Finishing Systems produces high-performing energy solutions and is active throughout the Near East. It also offers on site consultancy and analysis of the thermal performance of building envelopes.

SIFS is a pioneer in high-performance energy solutions for warm climates, leveraging research and technology for rapid growth.

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