Euro-style sustainability

12 February 2010


Earls Court 1, stand 1733

You can expect a warm welcome from the many family-run businesses exhibiting in the Swiss Pavilion, says Thorsten Terweiden, head of Swiss Business Hub. Timber specialists such as Renggli and JustSwiss began life as local joiners and saw-mill owners, but have now branched out into new high-end technologies and products. “These companies really believe in the philosophy of sustainability, they have long-serving members of staff, and they aren’t run by banks,” says Terweiden.

Lucerne-based Renggli has manufactured timber buildings for more than 40 years. It now specialises in pre-fabricated construction systems for houses, apartment blocks and schools. Using pre-fab panels, the company says it can erect a watertight and airtight building in two to three days.

Grass forms the raw material of a new insulation board called Gramitherm from Gramitech. The grass is converted into fibres which are formed into standard-sized insulation boards.

Another innovative board product called RESAP from Swiss company n’H Akustik + Design uses natural gypsum and recycled cellulose fibre as its base materials. The company is hoping to sell the product in the UK as acoustic panelling in buildings such as theatres and concert halls.





Ecobuild preview

With the UK striving to hit ever-higher eco targets, it can sometimes feel like we invented the concept. But as a visit to Ecobuild will demonstrate, our Continental cousins have been at it much longer


Earls Court 1, stands 1746, 1750, 1765

Visit the Austrian stand for a portion of Wiener Schnitzel and a chat about the country’s expertise in “Passivhaus” design, says Peter Franklin from the Austrian Embassy. Austria has the highest density of passive houses in Europe, accounting for more than 40% of the Europe-wide total (in terms of square metres), so it should know what it’s talking about.

The Austrian pavilion will host a series of technical presentations on building passive houses and the experiences of the burgeoning Austrian zero-carbon market. These will include passive house technologies for non-domestic buildings; refurbishing to passive house standards; and ventilation and control solutions for passive house buildings.

There will also be a presentation on the LifeCycle Tower, built by timber manufacturer Wiehag for developer Rhomberg Bau to passive house standards, which, at 20 storeys high, will be the world’s tallest energy-efficient modular high-rise building (see image).

Austria also sees itself as a leader in renewable energy generation. In the UK, biomass wood pellet and wood chip heating is a fledgling industry, but Austria already has 71,000 biomass systems installed. Exhibitor Guntamatic Heiztechnik invented Powercor, promoted as the first mass-produced energy grain pellet heating system.

A remarkable 24% of Austrian homes are now equipped with solar thermal panels, while the country’s photovoltaic industry also employs 1,500 people. Austrian solar technology is already established in the UK and exhibitor Ertex Solar recently integrated PV modules into the slanting roof of “the Peak” building at Abford House near Victoria Station.






Earls Court 1, Stand 1482

With eight different temperature zones to contend with, France has developed a variety of low-carbon products and services, says Michael Yates of the French Trade Commission. He says this, plus the quality of French design and the similarity of their low-carbon objectives, makes the country particularly relevant to the UK.

About 10 companies from southern France will be demonstrating their know-how in solar, wind and biomass technology. Meanwhile, ITR ISO 2000 will show products based on thin reflective multi-layer insulation, suitable for the insulation of roofs, walls and ducts. The technology relies on the low emissivity and reflective nature of layered metal foils to reflect heat back into buildings.

If you’re looking for a sustainable product for a stretched ceiling – an alternative to suspended ceilings popular across the Channel – Clipso’s PVC-free knitted fabrics (pictured below) are worth a look. These heat-shrinkable coverings can be printed with any design and are claimed to be the widest textile product available, at widths up to 5.25m.




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