Thermal Storage is Key to a Supercharged Green Building

This five-part editorial series, sponsored by Termobuild, explains how thermal storage, energy harvesting and green building design principles can make your next commercial build more comfortable and energy efficient. Best of all, these age-old green building principles cost no more than conventional construction, plus offer security in the case of power failure.

As we’ve improved human shelters from caves to condos, we have engineered increasingly complex systems to maintain our comfort. Modern central heating and cooling systems give us the freedom to live and work almost anywhere and be spared exposure to weather. This is, of course, a good thing. But humankind pays a price for so much comfort; it is highly energy intensive.

In fact, buildings account for 36 percent of total energy used in the US and 65 percent of electricity. Moreover, energy makes up almost one-fifth of a typical office building’s costs. Energy expenses are particularly high for hospitals, hotels and universities that run 24/7.

Thus, architects and engineers worldwide are trying to find ways to design large structures in a more energy conscious way. Often this means embedding ever greater complexity into construction. And while this achieves energy savings, the added systems and technology drive up the price of any building, and especially green building.

This whitepaper describes a better way, one that costs no more than conventional construction, yet offers superior energy management and comfort. But before we explain the solution, let’s look at where contemporary building often goes wrong.

Today’s building industry relies heavily on technology, but neglects age-old practices used for centuries to naturally heat and cool inner spaces. These practices paid attention to air flow and used temperature-moderating materials. Consider the Egyptian earthen homes or Pueblo adobe structures that incorporated mud brick for floors and walls. The concrete-like materials absorbed the cool air of evening and radiated it during the heat of day. Or conversely, at night they held the warmth of day inside when the air outdoors grew cold.

Green Building Thermal Inertia

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By integrating this pragmatism with today’s smart technology, we can significantly reduce the cost of high performance construction. We call this solution Termobuild, an innovation that costs no more than conventional building, but provides superior comfort, healthier indoor air, and energy savings. Termobuild can revolutionize the way we design our buildings. How does it work?

A ‘smart floor’ is the key design element. Like the earthen structures of old, the floor is made out of material, in this case concrete, which easily absorbs and radiates heat and coolness. The concrete floor slab has a hollow core for air flow. Couple this smart floor with sensors, energy harvesting, air ventilation keyed to outdoor temperatures, and air-driven radiant heating and cooling, and you have the beginning of the Termobuild system.
In a 24-hour period, these buildings undergo a kind of ‘supercharging’ with predominately free low-grade energy*, which provides increased comfort and energy efficiency. As a result – and this is important – they require 40 to 50 percent less mechanical heating and cooling equipment than does a conventional building. Termobuild is able to do more with less, which results in a significant price advantage over competitors’ systems.

Equally important, these remarkable buildings act as a form of advanced distributed energy. As such, a Termobuild structure provides a way to achieve some of the most sought-after – and elusive – goals in green building:
• Exceptional energy efficiency
• Thermal energy storage and built-in standby heating and cooling
• Storm resiliency and energy security
• Energy management that takes advantage of dynamic pricing and demand response

Termobuild’s proven approach has been used over the last decade in the construction of new schools, universities, medical facilities, offices and other buildings. Today, interest is heightening in green building as the world increasingly seeks cost-competitive energy-efficient construction. Over the next few weeks we’ll provide an in-depth look at the following green building principles:

If you would prefer to get the entire Energy Efficiency Markets article series on Supercharged Buildings you can download it here, compliments of TermoBuild.

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