A prefab second-skin to renovate old buildings into net zero energy savers

A start-up in Germany has been renovating old buildings into sustainable and energy efficient ones by using a 3D scan of the envelop to generate a molded wood panel second skin that can then be attached to the existing facade in 20 minutes. The preformed panels include insulation (and solar panels for the roof ones) to substantially save energy and reduce cost.

What Ecoworks founder Emanuel Heisenberg calls a “digital twin” of the structure – the preformed panels – allows to speed up the renovation process by automating planning such as windows, ventilation, pipe channels into the panel’s composition, which would traditionally require many months of work from several architects and engineers. Not to mention the ensuing on-site construction that would have involved meticulous craftsmanship, the job is now reduced to a matter of 20 minutes and a crane, done.

Making an old building net zero can be achieved in weeks using this prefab second skin, rather than months or years by means of old practice and conventions.

The start-up demonstrated the use of Ecoworks panels on a highly inefficient 1930s apartment building in Germany that used 450 kilowatt-hours per square meter of space. After the renovation was completed, the building was producing negative emissions, and extra energy to feed into the grid. The building became so inexpensive to power, heat, and cool, that the roof’s solar panels turned it into a carbon-negative building.

Also the carbon footprint of the construction should be offset within 2 years of completion, thanks to the use of wood (trees capture energy as they grow) and the reuse of the old building rather than demolishing it to rebuilt.

Ecoworks already has seven more projects lined up. Apartment blocks are the best candidates, but they are looking to adapt their panels to use in schools, houses, and even buildings in other countries. Heisenberg believes that moving away from traditional construction and using new technology is the only way to meet the herculean challenge of transitioning to a net-zero world. Old and new Inefficient buildings are a major source of climate emissions.


Photos Courtesy of Ecoworks

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