Urbanization is an ever-growing trend, particularly in China, where 15 megacities with over 10 million residents are located and urban areas are growing by the day. However, buildings also account for 40% of global energy consumption, so sustainable housing concepts can offer huge benefits for energy and emission savings. The Chinese government wants to seize this potential - and that is exactly what is being showcased from August 3 in the city of Dezhou in eastern China, where a contest for sustainable housing called “Solar Decathlon” has started.
At this contest, labeled by the organizers as “Olympic games for solar energy and the green building industry”, students from various universities developed 22 concepts of future, self-sustaining houses with one or two stories and 120 to 200 square meters in size. Of the 22 teams of 37 schools from 9 countries that are participating, German-based materials manufacturer Covestro supports a team from its long-term academic partner, the Tongji University in Shanghai.
“Making buildings more sustainable offers a huge leverage for energy and emission savings,” said Dr. Christian Haessler, currently Head of Sustainability and former Head of the Covestro Polymer Research and Development Center in Shanghai as well as former Dean of the Covestro-Tongji Innovation Academy. “Covestro is strongly committed to sustainability and innovation and has provided various materials for that purpose for decades. Together with our partner Tongji University, we have been cooperating since 2007. So we were happy to support the Tongji team in their endeavor to develop a concept for a sustainable, solar-powered house.”
Academia and industry shape the future together
As well as knowledge, Covestro provided materials for the so-called “EnergyPLUS 4.0” house as well – in particular, top floor coatings for the outdoor area as well as polycarbonate sheets for the front and side facade.
Permeable floor coating technology is a key component for a concept called “sponge city”. In this concept, the grounds of a city are designed to soak in abundant water and function as an alternative drainage system. Such sponge grounds can help cities adapt to climate change and prevent urban flooding. The permeable floor coating solution by Covestro beautifies and protects these ground’s surfaces under harsh conditions. It dries very fast thus improves efficiency. And thanks to its high weather resistance and color stability, it enables new design features for floors when it comes to colors and patterns. The polycarbonate sheets are applied in front and side walls and so these walls are transparent, freely designed, lightweight and durable as well as insulating – resulting in an efficient building and maintenance of the facade.
The students, who are from diverse fields ranging from architecture to civil, mechanical or energy engineering, have planned for this contest since March 2016, starting with an idea for the house and planning it from scratch. The house was designed to be not only a single family house but can be a concept for an apartment building for the Chinese market.