Tackling new challenges

Tackling new challenges
October 24, 2019


Knauf Insulation is committed to future-proofing the built environment by making it more sustainable in terms of energy efficiency, resource use, climate resilience, healthier buildings and urban green infrastructure. This means challenging regulation, creating market drivers, ensuring real performance and unlocking resources to make it possible.

The Economic Campus for the Government of Catalonia in Barcelona is certified WELL Gold and LEED Platinum and features 10,000m2 of our TP138 with E-Technology

A total of 1,500m2 of our Rock Mineral Wool DP5 (NaturBoard Partition Comfort) was installed in these LEED Gold-certified office buildings in Rome

Ensuring resilience? First, materials have to be installed properly. Second, they have to perform as predicted.
Steven Heath, Technical and Strategy Director, Knauf Insulation Northern Europe


Regulation drives change yet only one third of the world’s final energy use is covered by energy efficiency policies. The revised Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) came into force in 2018 for European Union Member States and offers a great example for other countries.
Under the directive, which already sets standards for energy efficiency in new and existing buildings, each country must create a long-term renovation strategy to decarbonise its national building stock and to transform existing buildings into near-zero energy by 2050.

Countries also committed to near-zero new build by the end of 2020. Katarzyna Wardal, our European Union Public Affairs Manager, says: “The directive is a powerful driver because these strategies cannot be empty promises.

The EPBD requires milestone dates every decade to measure the success of policies with clear goals that are future proof as well as ‘trigger points’ to accelerate renovation. With partners, Knauf Insulation played a role in the revision of this directive and we are now helping policy makers implement renovation strategies.”


Scaling up renovation rates? Quantifying benefits? Creating policies that work? Where do policy-makers start? And how do they engage people?

Knauf Insulation is a member of the European Alliance of Companies for Energy Efficiency in Buildings (EuroACE) which published a guide to address these issues in 2019.

Recommendations include creating well-resourced departments dedicated to the EPBD; constant structured stakeholder engagement; linking the 2030 and 2040 milestones to renovation strategies; benchmarking progress using measurable indicators; introducing renovation passports; sharing data and using public money to de-risk investment.


A near-zero energy use built environment will reduce energy use and curb CO2 emissions, but it is vital everyone understands the benefits to society, the economy and to public health.

A 2019 report by the Building Performance Institute highlighted how EU-wide renovation initiatives will create jobs, generate increased tax revenue, boost national GDPs, increase property values, cut energy import bills, reduce fuel poverty, improve comfort and productivity, provide air quality improvements — indoors and out — and help everyone pay less for heating and cooling.


One of the biggest challenges of achieving Europe’s near-zero energy use aims for 2050 is stepping up annual rates of renovation from 1% to at least 3%, says the European Insulation Manufacturers Association (EURIMA).

In 2019, the association issued an action plan to drive the rate up. In addition to ensuring the delivery of 2030 and 2040 milestones, EURIMA recommendations included: one-stop shops for customers which can provide information about renovation and the finance available; the introduction of building renovation passports and vocational training to improve renovation skills.


The European Commission’s pilot initiative Level(s) aims to mainstream building sustainability by unlocking the data needed to understand the environmental impact of buildings across their entire lifecycle. Less than 1% of all buildings are sustainability assessed in Europe.

We hope Level(s) will pave the way for an EU-wide Sustainable Performance of Buildings Directive. Our Knauf Insulation Experience Center in Slovenia is supporting Level(s) with research. Josefina Lindblom of the Commission’s DG Environment Unit Eco-Innovation and Circular Economy said: “From the beginning Knauf Insulation has supported our Level(s) work and has been extremely thorough.”


At Knauf Insulation we are focused on ensuring energy savings promised in theory deliver in reality.

We are pioneering new processes and digital systems that will ensure energy-saving renovation delivers quality, performance and the savings promised. “We believe our new processes and digital systems will revolutionise renovation across Europe,” says Barry Lynham, Managing Director, Knauf Energy Solutions


Two critical elements are vital to success, says Steven Heath, Technical and Strategy Director, Knauf Insulation Northern Europe. “To create resilient buildings, you must first show all materials and products have been installed properly by qualified installers at the build stage supported by documentary evidence that the work has been done correctly.
And secondly, where possible, you must measure that performance to show the building is performing as predicted.”


“Buildings are not keeping up with a rapidly changing climate or fast-moving demographics, so we have to make them more adaptable and resilient,” says Ross Holleron, Head of Building Research at Knauf Energy Solutions: “To do that we must examine the interaction between different aspects of a building from design and specification to construction and operation to maximise future value.”

To tackle these issues our researchers are exploring how adapting a systems approach to buildings design can avoid future problems. “For example, we are examining the impact of human behaviour, how buildings interact with their surroundings and how the building envelope can be improved to function better,” says Ross.


Heatwaves and flooding can cause chaos for urban areas as extreme weather become more common. Green urban infrastructure makes a difference.
For example, in the Middle East where temperatures reach 50ºC, installing our Urbanscape Green Roof solution to create a 3,300m2 park reduced the amount of irrigation water required from 43,000 litres to 23,000.
“In areas where storm-water flooding is common, green roofs can also relieve pressure from overstretched city drainage systems by absorbing up to 70% of rainfall,” says Jure Šumi, Business Development Director Green Solutions. “Our Urbanscape system for example, can hold between 27 and 45 litres of water per square metre.”


Any policy of renovation has to be supported by funding.
To fill the €130 billion per year investment gap for energy efficiency in Europe’s buildings, we have been campaigning with partners such as the European Alliance to Save Energy and the European Insulation Manufacturers Association to ensure: funds from the post-2020 EU budget are allocated to support long-term renovation strategies; a dedicated EU-wide renovation programme is set up supported by InvestEU – the EU’s hub for innovation and sustainable projects – to inspire additional investments; funds raised from the EU Emissions Trading System and Modernisation Fund are used for the least energy-efficient buildings to overcome energy poverty.

Buildings are not keeping up with a rapidly changing climate — we have to make them more adaptable.
Ross Holleron, Head of Building Research, Knauf Energy Solutions






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