Magdalena Rozanska: "It was five years of hard work and we learnt many lessons along the way"
As a dedicated architect, Magdalena Rozanska strongly believes in retrofitting, making old buildings energy efficient and adapting them to modern energy standards. She has been coordinating the MeeFS project, which started in 2012, and aimed at developing an innovative multifunctional and energy efficient façade system. She sums up the achievements so far.
The project is now crossing the finish line. What have you learnt?
Well, the biggest challenges were actually administrative in nature, but in total it was five years of hard work and we learnt many lessons. As always, in the planning phase you think you have considered everything and once the project starts you realise that you have only covered maybe a half of what should have been accounted for.
The workflow was very challenging, communicating between designing, testing, redesigning, manufacturing and assembling. And all of this done between the different European partners. Keeping everything together was difficult, especially as it took us over a year to obtain the licences for the planned installation. Once the construction phase started we were all very happy with how things evolved.
Why was Merida chosen as a demosite for the project?
We chose Merida because we already had a positive experience of working with the local government and they were willing to support us in the research. Also, the building they proposed was owned by one institution, which always makes the execution a lot simpler.
Further into the project, we discovered how the dwellers were in a very critical social predicament and this led to a number of technical issues to solve on site, such as the distribution of the panels on the façade. In some cases we didn't have access to apartments, and so we had to change the installation because the panels had to fit the needs of dwellers and some required monitoring.
What are the preliminary results of the demonstration buildings in Merida?
We already have good information on the technical development and fine-tuning of the construction process. However we are still in the process of analysing simulations and gathering energy data. We hope that we can sum up the impact of the panels in mid-2017 and present some data then.
MeeFS has claimed a breakthrough in developing two technologies, the advanced passive solar protector & energy absorption unit and the advanced passive solar collector & ventilation unit. Why are they so innovative?
Both panels aim to increase energy efficiency, reducing the total energy demand and enhancing the indoor comfort of the building. To achieve this, the panels combine several technologies that are automatically adapted to the position of the panel and the climate. Depending on summer, winter, and day and night for example they are able to adjust to the specific energy demand of the building.
How can this multifunctional façade system be used as a retrofitting technique across Europe, with different buildings and climates?
We designed the panels to fit social housing buildings. After analysing hundreds and hundreds of housing typologies across Europe, we can say that the building standards do of course differ depending on the year of construction, aesthetics and function, but overall they are quite similar. And we developed the panels accordingly using a modular system to fit any climate and housing situation. We also developed an anchorage system involving special trays that can easily be adjusted to allow for different building sizes.
Is that feasible in terms of costs?
Since this is an innovative technology it costs more than the state-of-the-art technologies. What we can already say though, is that our technology is easier to adapt to buildings and its effectiveness is higher than that of standard technologies.
We limit the payback time to seven years, so the panels are more energy efficient and offer greater savings in the long run. We designed the panels to be adaptable to future technology as well, so I think that they have a very good chance of being competitive in maybe five to ten years.
Multifunctional Energy Efficient Facade System for Building Retrofitting (MeeFs)
The MeeFS project, launched in January 2012, develops an innovative, energy efficient,multifunctional façade system for retrofitting geared towards the residential building sector.
The team works collaboratively on the façade development (architectural, energetic, breakthrough technologies according to passive and active technologies, energy management system, installation, and structural material), façade evaluation (of energy efficiency, new composite material life cycle and fire resistance) and façade demonstration in real life building in Spain.