Doing your own calculations keeps you warm: Simple computer program for building insulation
“Construction Assistant” is the name of the new consultation and calculation program for private builders and construction specialists that BASF will be showcasing at the BAU, the trade fair for construction and housing, to be held in Munich, Germany, from January 15 to 20, 2007. This computer program comprises several databases containing BASF insulating materials for construction elements and listing their most important energy-saving properties. This serves as the basis for a calculation module that determines relevant characteristic values such as the U-value (coefficient of heat transmission) and the dew point for various building components and insulating measures in accordance with the German Energy-Saving Directive (EnEV). The Assistant also uses the individual costs to calculate the heating energy saved as well as the time needed to recoup the costs. The main difference between this program and conventional energy consultation software is that it can provide a preliminary overview even to laypersons who do not have specialized knowledge of building physics. Users quickly acquire information about the energy-saving potential of specific insulating measures in their own houses.
“Before and after” comparison of energy and costs
The Construction Assistant can be used anywhere in Europe since it is based on the U-value determination and on the resultant transmission heat losses. Wall, roof, floor and ceiling structures are displayed in 3D graphics. Besides, the technical drawings can be modified depending on the construction material in question, on the thermal and moisture-related technical properties of the construction materials as well as on the thickness of the insulation panels. The objective is a “before and after” comparison: the U-value of the existing structure, for example, a 40 year-old, non-insulated stone wall is compared to the U-value after the renovation employing, for instance, 100 mm-thick Neopor® panels. The dew point (moisture protection) before and after the renovation as well as the energy saved annually can also be calculated. Consequently, the time needed to recoup the cost of the selected renovation as well as the annual savings can be determined as a function of the existing heating system, of the investment costs and of the annual inflation rate.
Simple and quick
The Construction Assistant is suitable for private builders as well as for contractors, building material suppliers, energy consultants and architects for providing advice and concrete help. “The program is easy to work with. Laypersons can quickly obtain a grasp of the costs and benefits of individual energy-related modernization measures. However, the subsequent detailed planning of the renovation as well as the calculation of the total energy balance should be carried out by a specialist,” explains Dr. Jürgen Fischer, head of this project at BASF. The Construction Assistant can also be used by BASF’s insulating material customers, who can incorporate their own products into the database. An English version is in preparation. The basis for the BASF software is the EPASS-HELENA® software created by the Zentrum für umweltbewusstes Bauen e.V. (ZUB – Center for environmentally sound construction). Energy consultants use the program for an in-depth evaluation of all energy-saving measures having to do with building and renovation.
Database of BASF insulating materials
The database of the Construction Assistant contains primarily BASF materials used for thermal and acoustic insulation. The silver-gray Neopor® (EPS) exhibits an especially low level of thermal conductance, combined with a low density of the raw material. It is used, among others, for façade insulation. The green Styrodur® C, a compression-resistant, extruded polystyrene rigid foam (XPS) is particularly suitable for insulating basement walls that come into contact with the ground, for installation underneath spread foundations and also as protection against thermal bridges. With an eye towards energy-efficient construction, BASF’s subsidiary Elastogran contributes its assortment of rigid-foam insulating materials made of polyurethane such as, for instance, insulating panels of thermal conductivity class WLS 024-030 for applications ranging from the roof all the way to the basement. With its new product Micronal® PCM, BASF is offering a microencapsulated latent-heat accumulator, that actively ensures a comfortable interior climate.
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