The energy efficiency of buildings has been recognized as a cornerstone of sustainable construction, making a significant contribution to the sustainable development of society as a whole. For this reason, at ZAG Ljubljana it is a priority research field, in which numerous research projects are performed, and which ZAG actively promotes.
When studying the energy efficiency of buildings, the main question is how to design buildings is such a way that, when put into use, they consume the least possible amount of energy. In the case of new buildings, their design needs to include everything from the early planning stages and the spatial placement of the building, to the correct choice of building materials and products, technical implementation, and the putting of the building into its planned use. In the case of existing buildings, it is necessary to solve the problems which are related to their current state. This means that, whenever such renewal works are involved, particularly innovative solutions need to be integrated into the implemented works.
Energy-efficient buildings, whether they are newly built or are to be renewed, are those buildings which require little or no energy for their heating and cooling systems, and whose functions can be supported by renewable energy sources. The majority of existing buildings have great potential for improvement, in terms of both energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy sources. For this reason, when developing new concepts of energy retrofitting and integrating existing and new technologies with the aim of exploiting renewable energy sources throughout the building envelope, it is necessary to focus mainly on all types of existing buildings. In particular it is important to fulfil the basic requirement, i.e. that newly created internal environments are such that users are offered high-quality and comfortable living conditions, which will have a stimulating effect on users, while not adversely affecting their health.
Within the framework of the EU project GE2O ZAG's experts have also participated in the development of a methodology for the integration of selected European areas (i.e. geo-clustering) according to certain characteristics, as well as verifying its operational concept and creating an online tool (available at http://www.geoclusters.eu), which combines different technologies and geographical areas into homogeneous data layers, taking into account individual indicators. ZAG's researchers have tested this online tool, and validated numerous tentatively developed scenarios. We have been particularly active in the field of solar cooling research.
ZAG researchers have been involved in the energy efficiency of buildings and building elements, in high-quality energy renovation works, and in the integration of technologies for the exploitation of renewable energy sources, especially solar energy, during the course of various domestic and international research projects. In particular they were active in the national project KC TIGR (Competence Centre for Sustainable and Innovative Construction), which was the first project to connect together the different building blocks of sustainable construction. Within the scope of this project ZAG's experts played a key role in the research and development of new concepts for the construction and renovation of buildings, for energy efficiency systems and renewable energy sources, and for multi-functional durable products, as well as in the implementation of LCA / LCC methodologies, BIM tools, and information-communication technologies.
Within the field of energy-efficient systems in buildings ZAG has participated in the EU project HEAT4U, whose aim is the development of low-power gas absorption heat pumps (GAHP) for use in residential buildings. For this purpose the controlled simulated leaking of such pumps was investigated, and various leak scenarios were verified and analysed.
Within the scope of the EU project BRIMEE, ZAG's research activities in the field of products for energy efficiency were expanded and upgraded. The essence of this work was the production of a thermal insulating product based on biological waste material. The product has been developed mainly for indoor use, with the aim of making a contribution to the improvement of the indoor environment. This product will have a high design potential, and will also be low-cost and energy efficient.