Serial renovation with its new technical possibilities for industrial prefabrication of individual building elements can make a significant contribution to insulation protection and thus to climate protection. The Estonian manufacturer Matek is involved in a pilot project of the BMWi Ministry in Berlin, Germany.
At 18 %, “Housing” is among the top 5 annual personal greenhouse gas emissions; heating accounts for a large share, according to the Federal Environment Agency’s CO2 calculator. Another 8 % is accounted for by “public emissions,” including schools or hospitals. A large proportion of buildings in Germany are still poorly insulated and the correspondingly high energy consumption contributes to climate change. Insulating buildings is the most effective way for each and every individual to reduce CO2 emissions. At the same time, it is also a challenge for many housing companies.
With its “Promotion of Serial Renovation” program, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) supports the goal of further increasing the overall energy efficiency of buildings. By 2050, the building stock must be comprehensively renovated in terms of energy efficiency in order to achieve the German government’s climate protection targets.
Serial renovation also involves new technical possibilities for industrial prefabrication of individual products and coordinated refurbishment elements. This also includes integrating digital manufacturing into the refurbishment processes. Construction and supply companies or craft businesses are called upon to offer new technical solutions and concepts.
Prefabricated facade elements ensure greater flexibility and efficiency
Automated prefabrication means that off-site prefabricated facade or roof elements are used for the renovation of existing buildings, including associated building technology. The prefab elements have such a high degree of maturity that they significantly reduce on-site assembly time compared to conventional refurbishment – and in most cases do not require scaffolding. All three aspects naturally have a cost-cutting effect.
One of the companies involved in a current project of the funding program in Berlin is Matek from Tallinn, Estonia. Matek specializes in the production of timber frame and modular houses, but also in wooden facade elements.
Hybrid construction combines robust structure with resource-efficient building envelope
Matek has recommended itself for participation in the BMWi program, for example through a project at Tallinn University of Technology. There, a 35-year-old, five-story student dormitory was converted into a zero-energy building in 2018 using a variety of new technologies, a so-far unique project in Scandinavia and the Baltics. Matek clad, insulated and modernized the concrete facade with a solution made of wood, so that the building brings not only thermal, sound and fire protection, but also an attractive exterior. In this way, a robust supporting structure is combined with a resource-saving, individual building envelope. This hybrid construction achieves a high standard of insulation while at the same time reducing the thickness of the outer walls.
In Tallinn, the exterior facade is prefabricated as a timber frame element and includes the battens, counter battens, insulation layer, windproof layer, PE folios and wooden facade elements. “Prefabrication implies careful work, which is a measure of quality to achieve a windproof solution that meets all other technical building standards,” says Kaarel Väer, Matek’s Head of Sales.
Matek is familiar with the German market. Founded in 1988, the first exports to Germany began just five years later. Since then, Matek has produced smaller and larger projects, including housing estates, apartment buildings and public buildings throughout Europe. “95 % of our production goes abroad,” explains Kaarel Väer. “The main market is Scandinavia, but Matek houses are also located in Switzerland, Italy or Germany.” The company plans to set up its own production in Germany in 2022.
“Wood is optimal for prefabrication,” adds Annika Kibus, managing director of the Association of Estonian Wooden House Manufacturers. It takes place in the production hall with state-of-the-art CNC machines, i.e. independent of weather conditions and precise. From there, the facade elements are transported to the construction site and installed by crane in the shortest possible time.
Automated solutions for complex challenges
Estonian timber construction companies are well-known players when it comes to finding sustainable solutions to complex challenges – whether public or private sector buildings, or even private or garden houses. Every fourth wooden house exported to the EU comes from Estonia, the largest exporter of wooden houses in Europe.
The timber industry is one of the largest manufacturing industries in Estonia. The Estonian Wooden Houses Cluster represents nearly 80 % of this segment and unites the largest wooden house manufacturers in Estonia. Its members represent the complete value chain from forest management to diverse end products. In recent years, Germany has become the most important single export market.
“Estonia is also known as a pioneer of digitalization,” says Annika Kibus. “From there, it is logical that Matek participates in the BMWi serial renovation program.” The country, a member of the EU for nearly 20 years, is at the forefront of digital transformation in Europe, exporting industry 4.0 and automation applications to a wide variety of economic sectors – including the construction sector. Fully automated woodworking machines provide greater flexibility and efficiency without compromising quality.
German-speaking contact partners
Architects and project developers can access further case studies and information about the timber construction industry on the German-speaking website https://tradewithestonia.com.de or contact the Estonian Business Development Agency offices in Nuremberg and Berlin directly.