A workshop was held in Tehnopolis on the topic: Use of agricultural waste for the production of sustainable building materials with high energy efficiency


This week, a workshop was held in the premises of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center Tehnopolis: The use of agricultural waste for the production of sustainable building materials with high energy efficiency.

After a short presentation of the project, the audience was addressed by Dr. Nataša Kopitovic Vukovic, teaching assistant at the Faculty of Civil Engineering in Podgorica, presenting in detail the legal regulations related to the energy efficiency system in Montenegro. At the beginning of the presentation, Mrs. Kopitovic Vukovic referred to the very concept of sustainable construction, why it represents an innovation in infrastructure, as well as why it has a positive impact on the environment and natural resources. In the following, the participants got acquainted with the legal measures related to the energy efficiency system in Montenegro, with special reference to the directives that regulate the same area in the member states of the European Union. Measures in Europe related to energy efficiency in buildings are set out in EU directives, which represent the main instrument of legislation that regulates the efficient use of energy in the building sector in the EU:

  • Directive 2012/27/EC on energy efficiency aims to harmonize national legislation for construction products related to health and safety requirements.
  • Directive 2010/31/EU on the energy performance of buildings aims to promote the improvement of the EE of buildings, taking into account indoor and outdoor climatic and local conditions, as well as cost effectiveness.
  • Directive 92/75/ECC on mandatory labeling of EE household appliances.
  • Directive 93/76 on limiting CO2 emissions through increasing EE.
  • Directive 98/106 on the harmonization of the laws of the member states on construction products.

Speaking about NZEB buildings – near-zero energy buildings, Mrs. Kopitovic Vukovic explained that they represent buildings with very favorable energy characteristics, high efficiency, which are determined in accordance with the Directive. The insignificant amount of energy required, which is close to zero, should be covered as much as possible from renewable sources, including energy produced on-site or in the immediate vicinity. In this regard, it is planned that from December 31st 2018. all buildings used by the public sector should be close to zero-energy, and that from December 31st 2020. all new buildings should be close to zero energy, as if subject to regular inspection.

In the continuation of the presentation, the participants got acquainted in more detail with the main characteristics of the energy sector in Montenegro, as well as the legal regulations related to this area. Among the main characteristics of the energy sector in Montenegro, the wide distribution and underutilization of alternative energy sources, high energy intensity, i.e. high energy consumption and high energy intensity. From the above, it is concluded that the existing system, the last uncontrolled energy consumption in Montenegro, is unsustainable. Solving this problem implies a systemic approach, which includes three key aspects:

  1. Establishing an adequate legal framework
  2. Raising the level of awareness about energy efficiency
  3. Implementation of the principle of energy efficiency.

In addition to a number of regulations, energy efficiency in Montenegro is regulated by the following laws:

  • By the Law on Energy Efficiency, which establishes the conditions that buildings must meet in terms of energy efficiency and the methodology for calculating the energy characteristics of buildings.
  • The Law on efficient use of energy, which determines the way of efficient use of energy, measures to improve energy efficiency and other issues of importance for energy efficiency in final consumption.
  • The Law on waste management, which determines the types and classification of waste, planning, conditions and methods of waste management and other issues of importance for waste management. The law also refers to prevention of generation, reduction of the amount of waste or reuse of waste and collection, transport, processing and disposal of waste, supervision of these procedures and subsequent maintenance of landfills.

Summarizing the presentation, Mrs. Kopitovic Vukovic stated that our country has adopted the Energy Policy Plan until 2030 as the main strategic document in the field of energy, which establishes three main priorities and twenty key strategic goals. However, in order for the Plan to be fully realized, it is necessary to overcome the challenges in the implementation of the existing EE regulations in buildings, the absence of comprehensive legislation that would provide a basis for ensuring energy efficiency, as well as the adoption of regulations at the local level that would oblige investors and those who engage in construction to apply energy-efficient technologies.

The second part of the workshop was dedicated to the use of agricultural waste for the production of sustainable construction material with high energy efficiency, which was discussed by Dr. Radomir Zejak, professor at the Faculty of Civil Engineering in Podgorica. At the beginning, Mr. Zejak referred to the types of construction materials that exist, as well as the chronology of their use. With the development of human society, which has reached mega proportions, the energy balance and the living environment become very problematic and contradictory. The catastrophic consequences of this state of technological progress are already very evident, and they are connected not only to climate change, but also to phenomena that have existed since the earliest periods of human existence. It is necessary to mitigate the mentioned consequences, so that this level of development of human society is sustainable.

The use of agricultural waste dates back to prehistoric times, and today it is used in the construction industry

  • “green” concrete as a substitute for:
    • Binding material: sawdust ash, rice husk ash
    • Armature (reinforcement): bamboo, hemp
    • Aggregate (sand and gravel): wheat straw waste, wood shavings, willow, artichoke, corn cobs, coconut shells and pistachios as light aggregates. To achieve a better result, a combination of fine and coarse agrowaste is recommended.
  • for making insulation
  • for obtaining bio-bricks
  • as components for making concrete roofs and tiles.

The advantages of using agricultural waste are related to: low price, availability and environmentally friendly nature, as well as high carbon content, which improves durability and flexibility. Speaking of disadvantages it the issue relates primarily to the durability of agro-waste samples (resistance to fire, freeze/thaw cycles).

During the presentation, Mr. Zejak referred to the protection of agro waste, where primary attention should be paid to exploitation conditions, the presence of oxygen and moisture, as well as cyclic changes of dry and wet environments, all with the aim of preventing rotting. Procedures related to the protection of agro-waste include: application of chemical protection with antiseptics that are toxic to fungi and microorganisms, various technological procedures (soaking, impregnation, treatment with antiseptic pastes, etc.), valorization of agro-waste as an ingredient in composites, etc.

Speaking about the use of agro waste in Montenegro, statistical data indicate that the total amount of generated waste for 2019 is over 1,200 tons, of which the smallest part is waste in agriculture, forestry and fishing (about 10 tons), followed by waste in construction, which is about 150 tons, household waste about 300 tons, waste related to production in other industries close to 800 tons, etc. In his presentation, Mr. Zejak presented proposals for the use of agricultural waste in Montenegro for products in the construction industry, for: clay products, composite materials – mortar and concrete, fiber briquettes, replacement of part of coarse aggregate with shell waste (mussels, mussels, oysters, etc.) into composites of the type of mortar and concrete with inorganic binders and multi-layered ( lamellar) packages. As indicated, the use of agro-waste in Montenegro is possible primarily for the production of composites, i.e. their variations, so it is necessary to focus on these materials. The idea of combining agro-waste with existing industrial waste in Montenegro, at least as a partial replacement of some components, represents a challenge and an important field for research.

In the final part of the presentation, the attendees were also presented with examples of good practice in the use of agricultural waste for the production of sustainable building materials with high energy efficiency. First of all, it refers to the use of agricultural waste materials in thermal insulation materials, of which the leading ones are: hemp, straw, olives, coconut, wood and flax. Comparing the properties of agro materials with traditional materials, Mr. Zejak points out that when it comes to heat transfer resistance, a concrete wall would have a thermal conductivity more than 4 times higher, while a wall of the same dimensions made of standard solid bricks would have a thermal conductivity almost 3 times higher.

The main goal of the AWeS0Me project is to increase the use of energy-efficient materials in the construction industry, which originate from the processed waste of the agricultural industry.

The leading partner on the project is CONFIMIALBANIA, and the project partners are Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center Technopolis, Polytechnic Faculty, University of Bari, Italy and Municipality of Molise, Italy.

The project was financed through the Interreg IPA cross-border cooperation program Italy – Albania – Montenegro for the financial period 2014-2020.

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