3 March 2011

Black @ Ecobuild

Over the last 2 days representatives from Black Architecture have been doing the rounds to see what potentially interesting products are on show at this year’s Ecobuild. Whilst real innovation seems to be sparse, there has been a few products which have caught the eye.

Shower Heat Recovery from ITHO.

Rather than letting our water from a hot shower go down the drain without any further use, why not use it to pre-warm the incoming cold water. Using a very simple system of running the cold water supply to the shower through the warm waste water in a sealed system you can pre-warm and in turn lessen the amount of heated water required to mix your morning shower to the desired temperature. Available in either Copper or Aluminium, depending on your budget, the system can apparently recover between 50-60% (depending on the material) of the waste water heat.

Energyflo Construction Technologies' Dynamic Breathing Building System

As the thickness of exterior walls rocket due to improved U-values, Energyflo Construction Technologies’ Dynamic Breathing Building systems are an interesting piece of lateral thinking. The product replaces traditional insulation in the wall build with a combined system that does the job of traditional insulation and more. Air is drawn into the centre of a modular panel where there is a filter sandwiched between two boards, here the air is heated/cooled by the building’s radiant heat before being pulled into a ventilation system. The product supplies filtered and pre-heated air into a building and claims to be capable of achieving U values of 0.10 W/m2k at the same time whilst minimizing the wall thickness.


Skyshades have introduced flexible PV cells to their tensile membrane structures. This lightweight solution can curve to suit most canopy applications and generates power from lower light levels than many standard cells. While the technology itself has been around for a little while, it begins to paint an exciting picture of a solar powered future…

  • Alfresco umbrellas which you plug-and-play your laptop into;
  • Car park shelters which double as a charging dock for electric vehicles.

Diasen – Diathonite.

2000 year old Roman technology goes into Diasen’s thermal insulating cork-based plaster products. Cork is mixed with clay, Diatomeic powder, Polypropylene fibres and ‘environmentally sound’ additives and hydraulic natural lime to form a spay applied Diathonite coating. A product that the manufacturers identify a range of uses from external thermal insulation to acoustic screeds.

The product data sheets indicate high thermal capacity and good breathability, elasticity and acoustic properties. Diathonite forms a substrate that can take a range of finishing coats or tiles. On an Italian Autostrade it is left in its raw state as a sound absorbing finish, reflecting only 30% of the incident sound waves from the passing Ferraris and electric cars.

Thermo emulsion from Nutshell

Thermo emulsion is an insulating paint, described as ‘Paint that acts like a flask’. Using Nano and Micro technology to resist thermal transfer through walls. By reflecting over 92.35% of the infrared spectrum heat is retained in winter and reflected away in summer where the paint is applied to both internal and external surfaces. The Nano SurfaPore ceramic microsphere particles also prevent moisture from freely penetrating the paint surface, reducing condensation risk.

Available in a range of colours, easy clean and with VOC’s under 3g/l it sounds good. Does it work? Probably one for Professor Doug King’s Building Physics colleagues to answer.

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