Europe – a growth market for ETICS
The “1st International ETICS Forum” organised by the European Association for External Thermal Insulation Composite Systems (EAE) on 29.9.2010 in Brussels was a huge success. More than 250 participants from all member states heard fascinating presentations and statements about the policy background in Europe, the regulatory framework, innovations and technology and the differing situations in member countries’ markets. The bottom line was that ETICS have established a reputation in the European construction market for offering enhanced energy efficiency, better climate protection and economic growth.
Speakers and participants all agreed that the objective of the forum – to offer an international information platform for the European ETICS sector – had been fully achieved. In her welcoming speech Michaela Holl, repre-senting EU Energy Commissioner Günther Öttinger, who was unable to attend on account of an engagement related to the same topic at the European Parliament in Brussels, thanked the organisers for putting EAE and ETICS on the European stage. “This is an ideal moment for such an event, as energy efficiency is currently high on the European agenda”, said Holl, who is responsible for energy at the EU Commission.
Before the forum turned to specific themes, EAE Vice President Dr. Clemens von Trott first introduced the association with its current organ-isational structures and briefly described the four main areas of activity for the 13 member countries:
_ Ensuring quality throughout the system
_ Achieving market growth
_ Harmonising research and testing processes and improving standards
_ Carrying out technical and political lobbying aimed at increasing the profile of ETICS amongst European decision-makers
Following this, Michaela Holl (EU Commission) and Richard Seeber, rep-resenting the EU Parliament, described the current situation regarding the Directive on Energy Performance of Buildings (EPBD). This framework di-rective was published in June 2010 and is due to come into force in 2012. As Holl explained, it will mean that all buildings in Europe will in future be covered, whereas hitherto only 27% were affected by existing regulations. Amongst other things the framework directive requires new buildings to be virtually zero-energy. The EU is currently focusing on optimising the cost of modernisation of buildings to achieve greater energy efficiency. “The entire life cycle has to be included in the calculation,” according to Holl, “not just the initial investment!” Richard Seeber underlined the efforts of the EU Parliament to extend the regulations on energy efficiency to include currently non-binding elements. At the same time he pointed out the need for the issue to be linked to agricultural policy at EU level. One example he mentioned was the use of ecological insulation materials.
EAE President Lothar Bombös provided a comprehensive overview of the market situation for ETICS in Europe. According to him, energy efficiency and climate protection, ecology and sustainability are stimulating demand for ETICS, as are the growing modernisation market and the trend towards frame construction methods using ETIC systems. Possible risks for the sector could come from a scarcity of raw materials or a rise in their prices, the scaling down of subsidy programs and inconsistent quality of workmanship. This last point in particular highlights the need for EAE members to work together to draw up an international guideline by 2011. As Bombös put it: “We must also do all we can to ensure that contractors in the various countries only use a single system from a single provider.”
As a consultant engineer in France, Gerard Fleury was in a position to provide an excellent overview of the French market. He described the relatively modest starting point for ETICS in France compared with other European countries and saw the reasons for this as being both historical and the result of a preference for particular construction methods. “ETICS have no real tradition in France.” But this is set to change in 2012, when new statutory requirements for greater energy efficiency come into force. The levels laid down by the new legislation could, according to Fleury, be easily achieved using ETICS. The aim is to reduce the average primary energy requirements of buildings from the current level of 120 kWh/a to a maximum of 50 kWh/a. Following growth of 22% in 2009, Fleury predicted that this year and the near future would see “significant growth for ETICS in France”.
Global trends as already described Lothar Bombös (see above) are also, according to Prof. Dr. Klaus Sedlbauer, Director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics, “innovation drivers for the construction industry.” For him, improving energy efficiency has priority over expansion of renewable energies. In the case of ETICS, innovation development in the sector is focusing on insulation material thickness and optimisation of thermal energy transfer. According to Sedlbauer the sector is set to benefit from the trend towards energy-plus houses: “The future has long since begun for ETICS!”
In the two presentations that followed – by Yves Grégoire (Head of De-velopment at the Belgian Building Research Institute) and Chris Zijderveld (President, Foundation Passive House Holland) – participants in the forum were given a detailed description of the market situation and the technical standards for using ETICS in Belgium and the Netherlands. Both countries operate at a very high level in this respect, as the speakers were able to demonstrate with a number of examples.
Following this, Prof. Dr. Horst Bossenmayer, President of the Institute Construction and Environment, and Johannes Kreissig (PE International) described current regulations for the ecological assessment of buildings in the form of Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) and Environmental System Declarations (ESDs). For the first time in Europe, the ESDs for ETICS were presented. Certification is set to permanently establish quality and systems consistency in the market.
The crowning touch to the 1st European ETICS Forum was the concluding address given by well-known British architect and star of television and press, Maxwell Hutchinson. His declared belief in energy-saving con-structions using ETICS was more than just an appeal. He made it clear that ETICS offer architects in Europe an excellent opportunity to combine variety of design with environmental and economic considerations. Hutchinson’s declaration that "ETICS are amazing, life-changing" is likely to remain in people‘s heads for a long time.