Innovative eco-construction with insulation panels of Mediterranean wood and cork

The European IMIP project (Innovative Eco-Construction System Based on Interlocking Modular Insulation Wood & Cork-Based Panels) proposes an ecological and innovative system for the sustainable construction of buildings with greater energy efficiency.

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Cross Laminated Timber. Photo: IMIP project

In Europe, the wood used to produce cross laminated timber (CLT) that is currently used for ecological construction generally grows in productive forests in the centre and north, mainly in Scandinavia, Austria or Germany. Mediterranean pine wood is not used in construction due to its lower quality and is only employed for low value-added products such as bioenergy or pallets for transporting goods.

The ICT research group against Climate Change of the Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain, is leading a European project involving Spanish, French and Portuguese expert partners to address this situation and provide an outlet for wood from Mediterranean mountains with greater added value than the current one. During the three years of the project, which started in May 2020, CLT panels will be designed with Mediterranean pine wood (Aleppo pine and Maritime pine) and with an interior layer of expanded cork to improve its performance as a thermal insulator and acoustic buffer.

The innovative aspect of this new product is the use of the existing technology currently used for pallet manufacturing to produce CLT panels from pine wood harvested in clearings or other forest fire prevention forestry treatments. The aim of this product is to improve the energy efficiency of buildings throughout their life cycle by using local resources that will help to improve the profitability of local sawmills, forest management and thus further develop rural areas in Spain, Portugal and southern France.

The project also involves information technology specialists who will develop a plug-in for BIM (Building Information Modelling) that incorporates the life-cycle benefits of the materials used, such as carbon stocks. This tool will be used mainly by professionals in the construction sector and researchers to assess the carbon footprint of buildings.

The results of the project are scheduled to be presented during 2022, including the pilot buildings. Among the results, a roadmap is foreseen to improve energy efficiency in public buildings in South-West Europe by using locally sourced forest resources.

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