Trinseo | Optimizing Liquid Applied Membranes for Sustainable Construction

Thought Leadership

September 21, 2022

Optimizing Liquid Applied Membranes for Sustainable Construction

Dr. Timo Mangel, Global Application Technology Leader Construction and Senior Lead Research Scientist Latex Binders

Sustainability remains a topic of focus for many, especially as governments across the globe implement increasingly stringent guidelines to reach their environmental goals. This remains true for the construction industry as part of the European Union’s (EU) Green Deal aims to reduce waste and emissions caused by the building sector.

In response, industry professionals are paying extra attention to the materials they use and how they impact construction integrity, contribute to energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and beyond.

A clear example comes in the form of liquid applied membranes (LAMs), which are often used in Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems (EIFS) and for waterproofing interior wet areas like bathrooms and kitchens. LAMs have the potential to be composed of more sustainable materials – another key strategy to improve sustainability – and meet other expectations set by the EU’s Green Deal.

LAMs are also known to improve a building’s longevity, reduce maintenance and repairs, and improve a building’s energy efficiency, thus allowing them to meet sustainability goals without compromising performance properties.

Increasing Building Longevity & Reducing Maintenance

Often found in commercial buildings, LAMs can be used for EIFS membranes and for waterproofing applications, playing a crucial role no matter the application. When used for EIFS, LAMs improve moisture management. In waterproofing applications, LAMs prevent water penetration and increase the overall cost-effectiveness and lifespan of a structure.

LAMs for use in EIFS membranes are designed with a balance of water resistance and a controlled water vapor transmission rate. This combination allows LAMs, when applied to the substrate under the EIFS, to regulate moisture movement.

This ability is crucial to let the wall “breathe,” ensuring water is not trapped inside a building and preventing condensation and mold formation. Minimizing the amount of moisture stuck in the building also reduces the need for maintenance and replacements and increases building longevity as water can lead to deterioration of a structure.

LAMs can also be used in waterproofing to increase the longevity of tile applications and prevent water penetration to the tile application’s substrate. Boasting film flexibility and durability, these membranes are specifically designed to remain airtight to prevent the collection of moisture. These key performance properties ensure tile applications remain strong, even as a building settles, and can reduce tile cracking, which in turn decreases repairs.

Improving Building Energy Efficiency

The value of LAMs goes beyond reducing maintenance and replacements. In fact, LAMs for EIFS also help improve building energy efficiency. EIFS often act as a blanket, wrapping around a building to provide continuous insulation. EIFS containing LAMs allow for complete insulation which in turn reduces energy costs and improves the efficiency of heating systems.

The ability to reduce energy usage will only help the construction industry meet global goals of improving energy efficiency and lowering energy costs.

Incorporating Sustainable Materials

The EU’s Green Deal also aims to increase product circularity and incorporate more sustainable materials. LAM manufacturers can turn to the mass balance procedure to replace fossil-based materials with more sustainable materials.

Through this process, manufacturers can introduce different feedstocks at the beginning of material production and utilize other materials from non-petroleum sources to meet sustainability goals, such as the use of biogas in place of fossil fuels. From there, they can calculate the percentage of contribution these materials have in the final product.

This data can then be used by the industry to acquire a certificate of authentication that demonstrates not only the percentage of sustainable content their products contain, but also their professional commitment to increasing sustainability.

LAMs are just one example of how innovative material development and superior performance can help the construction sector meet requirements set by the EU’s Green Deal and improve the industry’s overall sustainability.

This translates to all materials, where new thinking about material composition, performance and use will be essential to improving structure longevity, decreasing repair and replacement needs, and striving toward a more sustainable environment for all.