Striving for Nearly Zero Energy
When the decision was made to overhaul a local primary school in the town of Chiari, in the northern Italian province of Brescia, it was agreed the project would extend beyond just the physical school complex to encompass a vacant adjoining lot and the end result would be a new urban hub that reunites all the local primary schools and provides new community spaces, including a civic center, a 400-seater auditorium and a spacious gym.
It fell to the local town planners to design the project, with assistance from Milan’s famed Polytechnic University, and the driving idea was to use energy more efficiently through upgraded installations and thoughtful architectural solutions. At the heart of this approach was Brianza Plastica’s Isotec Parete thermal insulation system for the envelope for the new structures and much of the revamped complex. Aesthetically, this was complemented by an outer layer of porcelain stoneware that created the desired color and material contrasts with the ground-floor glazing, the plaster sections and the large windows with a projecting aluminum frame, to create a harmonious overall mix of beige, grey and white.
The Isotec Parete system consists of a rigid polyurethane foam panel covered by an aluminum foil with a steel perforated stiffener so it can support practically any type of cladding, also creating an air gap between the insulation layer and the cladding. While the installation is a single-step process, the result is a high-performance insulating layer (λD=0,022 W/mK), a load-bearing structure onto which the cladding can be fixed and a ventilated air gap that boosts the thermal performance of the envelope and ultimately makes the interior more comfortable. The dry-installation approach not only brings the usual benefits of less time and a cleaner building site, but also means the façade can be assembled in practically any condition. The Isotec Parete panels, like the entire Isotec range, also meet the Italian Ministry of the Environment’s “Minimum Environmental Criteria” and contribute to attaining LEED® V4 certification. The upgrade to the school complex extended beyond adding a ventilated façade to wall sections, with over 900 sq. m of old windows replaced with certified, highly efficient new windows and a careful study of how to maximize the natural light. The combined effect of these changes is savings in the region of Euros 170,000 annually and 218,480 kg less in CO2 emissions. A geothermal heat pump system was added and linked to mixed low-temperature emission and distribution systems, and to systems to produce energy from renewable sources (about 400 kWp of installed capacity). The end result was the entire complex is in the A2 energy class and it has Nearly Zero Energy Building (NCEB) status based on regional and national standards - one of the first complexes in Italy to achieve this through a revamping project.