Development of high quality ecological solutions for thermal insulation systems on the basis of reed

Exterior and interior insulation systems containing reed as insulation material were developed. The solutions integrate insulation material, fastening and plaster (as well as optional heating for the interior insulation). A concept for the renovation of an old building using a reed insulation system was developed.

Short Description




The idea of thermal insulation composite systems is to lower heating demand, and thus to reduce costs as well as emissions that are harmful to the climate. However, emissions are caused not only by heating, but also during energy-consuming production and disposal of insulation materials made of fossil resources or synthetic components. That’s where alternatives should and can be sought through the usage of renewable resources, which store CO2 throughout their whole life cycle instead of releasing it.

Considering this, thermal insulation composite systems based on the renewable resource reed were developed in this project. Reed as insulation material is currently being used mainly in the form of boards. These boards are bound by metal wires and therefore hard to manipulate, they also lack in structural-physical quality. In order to find alternatives, experiments were undertaken to produce reed boards bound by binding agents. The outcomes are prototypes of a board bound by foamed thermoplast that show significant progress in terms of manipulation and processing. Another possibility of using reed as insulation material showed when examining chaffed reed.

Those two alternatives were analysed further by constructing exemplary walls for the exterior insulation. Two ways of fastening were examined – dowels for thermoplast-bound reed boards and timber construction filled with chaffed reed. Practical tests and structural-physical calculations showed results for the insulation effect, labour input and other relevant properties of these systems. A timber construction filled with chaffed reed is suitable for low-energy and passive house standards, whereas dowelled reed boards show good results for the thermal insulation of old buildings. A system for the use of reed boards in straw-bale buildings was tested and evaluated as well. For the plastering of insulation systems, different forms of lime plaster were tested regarding their humidity and thermal properties. In the end, recommendations for specified cases of applications can be made. Technical details were developed for gable and other problematic areas.

The interior thermal insulation is a good option for heritage-protected buildings, but poses specific challenges, especially regarding humidity of the construction. Based on these requirements, systems were developed including permeable reed boards, lime plaster and, optionally, a wall heating system. Through integrating these components, prefabrication of elements for interior insulation is made possible.

In the end, all the results of the foregoing project developments were used to create a concept for the thermal renovation of a selected old building. Different options for thermal insulation were examined and evaluated to fit the existing building fabric and structure. This concept provides detailed plans for the renovation, ready for being implemented.

Project Partners

Project management

Dr. Robert Wimmer
GrAT - Center for Appropriate Technology

Project collaborator

  • Rudolf Bintinger, Mag. (FH)
  • Sören Eikemeier, DI (FH)
  • DI Stefan Prokupek
  • Magdalena Burghardt, MA

Project or cooperation partner

  • BIA Bau Innovation Alternativ GmbH
  • Bau-Natürlich OEG, Schmidt & Rosman
  • Schilfgewinnung Sumalowitsch
  • SERA Lizenzen GmbH
  • Häuser in Wolle Reichel & Naar Ges.n.b.R.
  • Österr. Institut für Baubiologie und - ökologie GmbH
  • Dr. Heinrich Bruckner
    TU Wien, Institut für Hochbau und Technologie, Baustofflehre, Werkstofftechnologie und Brandsicherheit
  • Thomas Zöllner
    Nordson Deutschland GmbH

Contact Address

GrAT - Center for Appropriate Technology
Dr. Robert Wimmer
Wiedner Hauptstraße 8-10
1040 Wien
Tel.: +43 (1) 5880149523
Fax: +43 (1) 5880149533