Buildings account for around half of the EU’s total energy consumption. As a result, energy efficiency of buildings is a major theme in the European Commission’s Clean Energy for All Europeans package of proposals and a focus of this year’s European Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW), which takes place from 21-25 June.

But buildings must be more than just energy efficient of course. As we spend up to 90% of our time indoors, buildings and the environment they create also have a significant impact on our comfort, well-being and even health.

During the EUSEW, the ECO-SEE project will raise awareness about the links between energy efficiency and health, as well as how innovative eco-materials can provide a solution on both fronts. The project is featured within the ‘Visualising Energy’ campaign at EUSEW, which aims to highlight the human dimension of the energy transition through a public photo exhibition in Brussels and a campaign magazine (the article is available online here, p30-33).

Natural materials = healthy and energy efficient buildings

Over the last four years the EU funded research project has studied the use of innovative eco-building materials that have a positive impact on indoor environmental quality, while also radically improving the energy efficiency of buildings. The results show that natural materials, like sheep’s wool, clay and timber, can provide ideal solutions for these twin challenges and partners have developed a range of breakthrough eco-building solutions, including new and improved insulation, coating and panel products. These innovative solutions act like natural air conditioning, absorbing and removing harmful gases, as well as regulating humidity. Testing has also proven the energy efficiency of the new solutions, both in terms of embodied energy and energy performance.

90% indoors conference

To discuss the issues in more depth, ECO-SEE consortium partner Greenovate! Europe is organising a policy event on 29 June in Brussels. The ‘90% indoors: Solutions for healthy and energy efficient buildings’ conference will be an opportunity for policy makers, industries, building designers and academia to learn about the advantages of innovative eco-materials, and discuss how best to bring these innovations to the market. The conference is free of charge but registration is required via this link