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International Conference on Innovative Applied Energy    

E-Proceedings ISBN: 978-1-912532-05-6

14-15 March 2019, Oxford, United Kingdom



Optimization of thermal insulation for ecological reasons depending on the degree-days of heating period



Robert Dylewski

Faculty of Mathematics, Computer Science and Econometrics, University of Zielona Góra, Poland



Paper Abstract

Limiting the energy demand for heating in the construction sector is very important for economic and ecological reasons. Buildings and the construction sector account for around 45% of global CO2 emissions. One of the cost-effective ways to reduce heating costs is thermal insulation of the external vertical walls in the building. As a result of reducing the energy consumption for heating, the negative impact of the building on the environment is also reduced.

In the literature on the subject, many articles can be found in which the methods of thermal insulation evaluation due to economic reasons are developed and used. Using them, it is possible to determine the optimum thickness of thermal insulation for economic reasons. There is no research to determine the optimum thermal insulation, but for ecological reasons.

We propose a method to determine the optimum thickness of thermal insulation for ecological reasons (dopt_E) depending on the ecological heating costs. These costs, like economic costs, can be determined depending on the degree-days (DD) of the heating season. As the optimum for ecological reasons, the thickness of thermal insulation is determined, at which the ecological net present value (ENPV) of the thermal insulation investment reaches its maximum value. The life cycle assessment (LCA) analysis was used to determine the environmental impact of thermal insulation materials and thermal energy production. The SimaPro program and the ReCiPe evaluation method were used for the LCA analysis. As the functional unit, 1 m3 of material was assumed for thermal insulation materials and 1 kWh of thermal energy for the energy phase of the building's life cycle. The analysis was performed based on the Ecoinvent 3 database.

Using the proposed method, a study was carried out for a typical single-family house, one-storey, with an attic, with a usable area of approximately 150 m2. Various options have been taken into account: structural materials of the wall, thermal insulation materials and heat sources in the building. The range of degree-days was adopted to cover all 5 climatic zones occurring in Poland.

For all considered variants, the thermal insulation investment proved to be profitable due to ecological reasons, i.e. an ecological net present value of much higher than 0 was obtained. Moreover, for each variant, thermal insulation thickness, optimum for ecological reasons, was significantly higher than optimum for economic reasons. It is justifiable to use thermal insulation thicknesses greater than optimum for economic reasons. It is possible to obtain even greater environmental benefits (measured with ENPV), with slightly lower economic benefits. It should be emphasized that the ecological heating costs, and consequently dopt_E and ENPV, depend significantly on the heat source and fuel used in the building.

Paper Keywords
ecological cost of heating; life cycle assessment; optimum thickness of thermal insulation, ecological net present value.
Corresponding author Biography

Robert Dylewski, PhD, is a deputy dean at the Faculty of Mathematics, Computer Science and Econometrics of the University of Zielona Góra. His research in recent years has mainly concerned sustainable construction and energy efficiency in the construction sector. He deals with economic and ecological assessment of construction investments. The results of the research have been published, among others in journals: Buiding and Environment, Energy and Buildings, Journal of Cleaner Production and Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews.

The International Conference on Innovative Applied Energy (IAPE’18)