the idea


The thermal balance of the buildings and the furniture


In Italy , as in the rest of Europe, for new buildings as well as restored ones, it is required to reduce energy consumption. This reduction must be demonstrated through the building energy certificate, a document that shows the results of building thermal analysis (also called energy balance) that shows to the end user the energy quality of the building through a scale from class A (the best performance)f a to G (the worst).


The energy or thermal balance include all those elements that have an influence on thermal comfort. In particular, current regulations take into account the following elements: the building envelope, lighting fixtures and appliances, air conditioning systems, amount of people and their activity, local climate.In this list, however, a key element is missing.


An element that is always present in the building, in order to be able to live or work in it: the furniture


Thanks to a special material inserted within the structure, DuPont™ Energain®, SMARTH FUrniTURE is able of storing a significant amount of energy, functioning as heat accumulators increasing the thermal inertia of the environment. This allows to save energy, improving the thermal comfort keeping internal temperature constant. A solution to thermal mass in low inertial building.


The furniture of the future will no longer be "passive" elements within the environment, but "dynamic, active, intelligent," and will play a leading role in the heat balance of the building and therefore the energy efficiency and comfort.


This sets it a strategic task to the furniture giving it connotation and a value that goes beyond their purely aesthetic and practical aspect and broadening the scope and range of the entire industry of furniture and design.


It is a path to follow that opens up new lines of research and especially for new markets that could deeply change the world of furniture together with the energy efficiency in buildings (in particular the requalification of buildings), involving a series of multidisciplinary stakeholders.


How do they work?


DAY: when the internal temperature increases over 21 ° C, the furniture begins to absorb energy as latent heat, preventing overheating of the surrounding environment. The heat produced by printers, computers, televisions, and other electrical appliances in the home and in the office is absorbed directly by the furniture.

NIGHT: thermal plants are turned off, temperature drops and the furniture begins to release the accumulated heat keeping internal temperature almost uniform, reducing power consumption of air conditioning.


The heat balance of a building and the SMARTh FUrniTURE


As of today, in calculating the thermal balance of a building, only the main elements are taken into account: walls, roof, energy loads, heating and A/C systems. Regardless of the fact that each building has its own specific load of furniture, these are not calculated in the overall thermal balance, because they have never had a role that might influence in the thermal calculation.


The SMARTh FUrniTURE, when properly designed, can increase buildings thermal inertia and strongly influence the heat balance, reducing power consumption and improving comfort, especially in those buildings with low thermal inertia.

Finishing material (wood, MDF, laminate, etc.).

Material with a high heat storage capacity

Finishing material (wood, MDF, laminate, etc.).

Some results of energy savings


Thermal simulations performed have shown that SMARTH FUrniTURE helps to reduce up to 30% * energy consumption of summer air conditioning in highly glazed buildings and about 10% for the winter season.


In particular, this result was obtained by analysing an entire "open space" floor of an existing building located in Milan, with an area of 1,100 square meters and with a fully glazed façade.The space was organized with only items of furniture (desks, bookcases and some partitions as shown in the picture), with a total of  1,500 square meters surface and was simulated as if all the furniture had been built with PCM. That means 1.32 square meter of PCM for each building surface.


* The results depend strongly on the used of the building

DuPont™ and Energain® are a trademark and a registered trademark of E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company or itsaffiliates.

What is a Phase Change Material (PCM) ?


PCMs, Phase Change Materials, such as water, paraffin, salt hydrates, etc. are able to absorb, store and release large amounts of heat or cold at comparatively small temperature change by changing their physical state, as for example from solid to liquid, solid to solid or through evaporation of the storage material.


The heat stored is called latent heat, therefore materials are also referred to as “LATENT HEAT STORAGE MATERIAL”. PCMs with a solid-liquid phase change are most commonly used, also in construction and building applications .


It’s as simple as the ice cube melting in your drink: When ice cubes melt in a drink, they absorb heat from their environment without increasing their temperature and so keeping the drink cool.


A concrete vs. PCM Energain® comparison study run by Lyon University, France has demonstrated that 5 mm of Energain® behaves like approximately 30- 40 mm of concrete, depending on temperature.