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the SNUG vision

As climate change and environmental degradation threaten our planet, the European Union’s ambitious targets of reducing GHG emissions and reaching climate neutrality by 2050 have never been more urgent. 

Buildings, accounting for a significant portion of energy consumption and CO2 emissions in the EU, stand as both contributors to and potential mitigators for this crisis.

Sustainability-driven innovation in the
construction sector

SNUG is a project co-funded by the EU, the UKRI and the SERI that aims to revolutionize the construction sector through the development of sustainable insulation solutions which reduce energy consumption across the buildings’ lifespan while embracing circular economy principles. Additionally, in response to rising energy costs and energy poverty levels, SNUG prioritizes accessibility and affordability.

By decreasing both operational and embodied emissions with tailored energy efficiency measures and low-carbon materials, the SNUG methodology paves the way for a climate-neutral tomorrow where ZEB ratings are more achievable.

Building life-cycle stages

Embodied vs. operational energy: SNUG considers all stages of a building’s lifespan

Our project objectives

SNUG is structured around 5 specific objectives:

SNUG will identify and integrate local sources of reused or recycled construction products and secondary raw
materials to develop thermal insulation materials and multifunctional prefabs. These are meant to be applied in different kinds of buildings (new construction, retrofitting and cultural heritage) – envelopes, floors and roofs.
Specifically, SNUG will design thermal insulation materials using as raw materials several local wastes as: DCW, agroforest waste, marine algae waste, GGBFS, PureFlex wastes, biochar, etc.

The main improved features of the proposed materials/solutions regarding current commercial materials/solutions will be:
– Reduced embodied energy and CO2 emissions related to raw materials, manufacturing and processing;
– Improved energy-efficiency performance;
– Lower toxicity by reducing indoor VOC;
– Improvement of indoor comfort (noise insulation and thermal insulation);
– Increased safety by improving fire performance;
– Increased durability;
– Increased recyclability (re-use or recycle after end-use);
– Easy-to-install concept;
– Reduced total costs compared to existing solutions (decreased pay-back time through energy savings).

SNUG will deploy advanced, market-ready thermal insulation materials and multifunctional prefabs with optimal recycling and reusing potential and optimal performance across relevant areas (energy, durability, safety and protection against fire).

The aim is to scale up the developed products to a pre-industrial stage, striving to replicate the features and performance exhibited at a pilot scale in such a way that energy and production time is minimized. This will contribute to achieving cost-effectiveness and sustainability in thermal insulation materials and reducing the CO2 emissions from the building sector.

SNUG will design and develop a digital tool based on AI algorithms and digital twins able to help builders, architects and end-users in selecting the best thermal insulation set of materials/solutions and their layout to be installed in a new, retrofitted or cultural heritage building based on several metrics related to performance, sustainability, security and cost.

This solution will be designed to facilitate the selection of several options prioritizing specific indicators determined previously, supporting construction planners at three hierarchical levels simultaneously – material, components and configuration – throughout the design phase of buildings’ thermal insulation.

Our Digital Tool Assistant will be fed by several interoperable data sources consisting of:
– Thermal Insulation Database (TID);
– Digital Building Logbook (DBL);
– Climatology data sources.

SNUG will validate the robustness and adaptability of its proposed methodology by implementing a set of thermal insulation solutions, as proposed by the Digital Tool Assistant, in real operational conditions (new construction and retrofitting). The solutions will be tailored to the specifications of each selected building across three EU locations with different climates (Switzerland, Spain and Norway). A LCA approach and analysis will be followed.

The objective is to demonstrate an improvement in terms of sustainability, energy performance, safety, security and economic factors in comparison with two reference scenarios:
1) No actuation or current situation of an existing building without thermal insulation;
2) Current methodology employed by architects or renovation planners regarding thermal insulation works.

SNUG will establish synergies with existing projects funded by the European Commission within the same knowledge domain.

By creating such strategic collaborations, the goal is to leverage outcomes and knowledge generated, avoiding the duplication of efforts and economic resources and ultimately maximizing our joint impact.

Our work plan

SNUG is set to run for 42 months and comprises 7 work packages (WP):

WP1 

Coordination and management 

Coordinate the technological and scientific path of the project while ensuring efficient management of time and resources. Risk assessment, ethics, data and gender considerations will be covered.

WP2

Analysis and design optimization of innovative constructive solutions

Develop innovative SSbD (Self and Sustainable by Design) and smart thermal insulation solutions rooted in circular economy principles with improved performance and/or sustainability parameters compared with current market solutions.

WP3

Industrialization and validation of the innovative solutions

Define the industrial-scale production processes and final insulation solutions, based on the results from WP2, characterize the products and establish the technical instructions (including training documentation) for the deployment of the demonstrators.

WP4

Development of the Digital Tool Assistant for ad-hoc thermal insulation solutions and layout selection based in AI and digital twins

Develop a digital tool to streamline the selection of optimal materials and construction systems for buildings, considering factors such as climate, usage, and building typology, among others. Energy efficiency simulations and LCA will be taken into account to determine the best options.

WP5

Digital Building Logbook

Generate and compile high-quality data in a digital logbook format, including input data for the Digital Tool Assistant, pre-existing roadmaps and maintenance plans, LCA data, etc.

WP6

Demonstrators and monitoring

Implement real-life demonstrators across three buildings located in different European climates to test the project’s methodology and monitor the improvements in energy performance, sustainability and comfort.

WP7

Dissemination, exploitation, social involvement, training & standardization

Facilitate the uptake of project outcomes by the industry through activities such as communication, clustering with relevant EU projects/platforms, user/stakeholder engagement, IPR strategy, and standardization.

Our expected results

SNUG is an Innovation Action that aims to achieve 6 key outcomes:

1. Novel insulation materials/solutions sustainable by design

offering equal or higher thermal performance than market competitors but with a lower carbon footprint

2. Insulation materials database

including technical and LCA information

3. Digital Building Logbook

improving traceable information about buildings throughout its entire lifespan

4. AI-powered Digital Tool Assistant

to support builders and architects in selecting insulation materials and layouts for new construction or renovation works

5. Three demonstrators

each with different features, uses and climatology, showcasing the proposed methodology 
and integrating the insulation solutions developed

Group 491

6. Innovative methodology

based on advanced technologies for selecting the most suitable set of materials (including their combination and placement) to maximize energy efficiency and minimize GHG emissions across the buildings’ life cycle

Our impact

SNUG strives to deliver meaningful advancements in the following 3 areas:

Environmental

Enhanced reduction of GHG emissions and improved traceability across all stages of a building’s life cycle

Economic

Market adoption of design solutions, materials, products, techniques and business models that significantly decrease building related life cycle costs and emissions

Societal

More accessible and affordable life cycle performance and circular practices for buildings – new construction and renovation works