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VI th International Congress on Architectural Envelopes The 20, 21 and 22 of June 2012, Donostia-San Sebastián, Spain EPDM, the new skin Author: Josep Lluís Puig Castrillo Projects department Rollgum / Giscosa / Firestone BPE e-mail: Keywords: EPDM, rubber, skin, waterproofing, membrane, CO2, watertightness,, TPO.

Summary: This text will analyze the evolutionary process that the EPDM rubber membranes have gone through, coming to the world of façades from its usual applications such as roofing, civil engineering and water reservoirs waterproofing. We will see how the high performance of this material has earned the displacement of other inner layers, hidden, preserved at external positions and totally exposed. This unique movement from darkness to light, has occurred both in the flat roofs buildings [1] and its applications in facades, and this is the exact matter that we will focus on. New requirements such as prefabrication, sustainability, innovation, lightness, life cycle, CO2 among others, sum up in addition to other "unwritten" trends that connected with the first ones, mark the parameters of this type displacement or extract of context products to unexpected scenarios. All this backed up with studies and certifications attesting the mechanical values of the product, stimulating the pioneering decisions in the creative process, knowing that the emotion rules over the reason when decisions making. We will present typical façades applications and we will contrast them with particular cases in which the EPDM rubber membranes have been used as "new skin" of the entire envelope, in some other like "skin dressed" with coatings and other like "bare skin" as a top coat. Transcending the benefits of this material capable of providing full continuity, it is essential the existence of a certified application system, this system is another key to success as it will be seen in some of the cases presented. The EPDM rubber as "new skin" embodies the concept of building in pure form, with only one waterproofing top coat material that makes easy the transition less traumatic or almost imperceptible to the deck façade, fulfilling with recurrence classic architectural aesthetics. As it is with people ... the building only has one chance to create a "first good impression", and following this analogy, with people ... with just one impression it is not enough.

EPDM, the new skin

Josep Lluís Puig

Introduction to EPDM The EPDM rubber was developed starting in the 60's following the technology of Ziegler-Natta for the polymerization of alpha-olefins, which through the presence of a specific catalyst allows the polymerization of the temperature and the ambient pressure. New technologies, such as metallocenes, have erupted only recently, allowing the creation of EPDM polymers with special properties due to better control the polymerization reaction of metallocenes allowed. The inclusion of a small proportion of diene (usually ENB) in the polymer is what incorporates the presence of double bonds, which are those that enable us to subsequent conventional vulcanization. But these double bonds that are incorporated, cannot do it in the main chain (that made up of ethylene and propylene is fully saturated) but in branches. By having the double bonds in the branches (and also in very low proportion) EPDM ensures excellent weather resistance, making the rubber par excellent in the field of waterproofing. EPDM is a synthetic rubber with special characteristics that makes it suitable for waterproofing: • • • •

• •

Excellent resistance to ozone and UV rays. Elasticity ≤ 300% without any migration of plasticizers. Extreme flexibility from -40 ° C up to + 120 º C Efficient life, both in installed roofs as laboratory tests confirm the excellent aging of EPDM membranes, as with membranes installed over 30 years that are still well functioning. Projections of some laboratories, using the Arrhenius law, foresee that EPDM membranes can have efficient life for more than 50 years. Only 28,3Kg of CO2 per sqr. M (m2 of 1,5 mm. thickness) in normal EPDM membrane (not reinforced) [2]. Prefabricated wide panels up to 930m2 without any junctions.

The Biolene formula manages a dielectric EPDM helping to dissipate electromagnetic fields to turn the building into capacitor, alleviating sick building syndrome and some of its manifestations as semicircular lipoatrophy. The EPDM membranes albedo, by its shade and opacity, is not a commitment to interior comfort with a correct dimensioning of the thermal insulation. To improve the reflection, we have a white EPDM 1,5mm. thickness, 22,4 kg/m2 CO2, [2] bilaminate, white-on-black, for fully adhered installations as well as TPO (ethylene propylene rubber into a polypropylene matrix) in thickness 1,5mm. 29,8 kg/m2 CO2 in mechanical system of installation [2], membranes in reflective colors, polyester weft inserted reinforced and chlorinate free, without or plasticizers either halogens no toxic or corrosive combustion gases are produce ins case of a fire, both made by Firestone BP. Usual applications of EPDM The usual application and use for a EPDM membrane in building construction is on the roof, since it is the most vulnerable and most risky position, no matter if we are observing flat or low slope roof and because it is sometimes even completely exposed surface to all kind of atmospheric agents and temperature changes, we use it there because of its great responsibility of protecting the interior spaces. Ensuring waterproofing in any of its forms: liquid (leaks, capillaries, and condensation), solid (snow or ice) and gaseous (steam). The CTE Basic Document HS / Health / Protection against moisture [3], marks different levels of waterproofing (lowest to highest according to the presence of water) to waterproof floors, walls, while on roofs is required "a unique and independent of climatic factors degree of waterproofing."

EPDM, the new skin

Josep Lluís Puig

With current technology in the manufacture of synthetic rubber EPDM membranes with or without reinforcement, regulated and recognized by the current CTE HS1-21 in addition to European Standards EN-13956 Flexible sheets for waterproofing roofs [4] and UNE-EN-13984 Sheet Flexible waterproofing of facades [5], consolidates the path from darkness to light, both in roofing and facades.

Traditional use of EPDM in ventilated façades In order to solve waterproofing problems in ventilated façades, EPDM rubber strips are used to preserve the union of the woodwork against the water runoff. The strips used vary between 1575 cm. of width and have thickness from 0.5 mm up to 1mm. The system allows bonding to the building or on metal support using the adhesives (Fig.1) and the use of facades sealant . The EPDM rubber also could be mechanically fixed (Fig. 2).

Fig 1. Buildings , Belgium

Fig 2. Torre Agbar, (Barcelona)

When overtures are a significant percentage, the entire façade may be waterproofed with the EPDM membrane completely bonded to the support, and in these cases it is usually used 1mm thick sheet. The brackets and / or vertical battens perforate the EPDM, but since the EPDM has memory the membrane clutches to the screws, sum up the mechanical pressure plus the inclination, and this point is not a problem any longer. This system provides sealants such as the Water Block Seal S-20 that gives us a seal under constant compression. The malleable bands conform by means of his self-adhesive technology, merges to the EPDM in order to achieve complete waterproofing at the most critical singular points (Fig. 6). The memory of the rubber EPDM can help in the watertightness of the facade when the mechanical anchorage system is being used (Fig. 3 and 4).

EPDM, the new skin

Fig 3. Hotel Vinci façade (Barcelona)

Josep Lluís Puig

Fig 4. Office façade (Barcelona)

The Expo Zaragoza Pavilion building done in 2008 by architects Olano and Mendo, with its forms like "wicker basket" was a real challenge for the waterproofing. All its singular points were successfully resolved thanks to the perfect EPDM adaptability and its waterproofing system accessories including the QuickSeam Formflash product, capable of tacking complex 3D shapes and forms. A wind test was previously taken on a scale model by the CIDEMCO Technology Center.

Fig 5. Aragón Pabellon (Zaragoza)

Fig 6. Detail

EPDM pioneer buildings as “bare skin” The path that EPDM rubber took to façades required the development of different adaptable anchoring systems, in addition to the forms, the peculiarities of each job, in each case the Giscosa – Firestone Technical Manual was used, the DIT nº 461 (document technical suitability) [6] for the Giscosa’s membranes produced in Spain and the DIT nº 554/10 for the Firestone membranes, both also have Avis Technique certificate [7]. Vila Nurbs (Fig. 7 and 8) used 1.1mm EPDM rubber membrane in one of its façades that was subsequently covered with a suspended ceramic by a network of cables. In Fig 8 view of the roof with inflatable ETFE.

EPDM, the new skin

Fig. 7 Vila Nurbs. Ampuriabrava (Girona)

Josep LluĂ­s Puig


Arq. Enric Ruiz Geli

Fig. 8

The Never Never Land house stands as on toes on the ground and spreads over the plot volumes fully waterproofed by EPDM membrane completely exposed. The whole work presents a striking image that distracts from all reason, and the concept is in the creative process: respect for the tree plot, continuity of runoff and soil permeability, versatility in the use of housing, among others.

Fig. 9 Never Never Land House, (Ibiza). Arq. AndrĂŠs Jaque fotos: Croquis


Complete envelopes with EPDM A parameter that we cannot ignore these days is economy. Solutions must be in line with the economic possibilities. An example is the building of public housing (Fig. 11), where the architect Artur Frediani commented: "Construction is based on dry assembly, pieces arrive and are placed directly which means that practically there is no waste generated ... the EPDM membranes were adjusted to the entire structure such as wrapping paper" [8].

EPDM, the new skin

Fig. 11 V.P.O Building Vilassar de Dalt Arq. Artur Frediani (Barcelona)

Josep Lluís Puig

Fig. 12 Industrial building in Terrassa EPDM Giscolene-150 totally adhered

The industrial building (Fig. 12) was fully covered with Isogard, high density polyisocianurate board, mechanically fixed, with its two sides covered with fiberglass in order to dully adhere the EPDM Giscolene thickness 1,5 mm. in standard rolls of 1.5 m. that were placed vertically, marking each splicing by the esthetic requirements with the self-adhesive band of the system.

Fig 13 Austria Auditorium. Firestone Rubbergard fully adhered EPDM

The woven ceramic “Flexbrick” is an innovative industrialized system based on a flexible ceramic sheet concept made for waterproofing façades and roofs, with the possibility of continuous surround-usable roof-floor façade and perfect adaptation to curved forms and double curvature. In the "Casa Mingo" house (Fig.14-15) was used 1.5mm thick Giscolene EPDM 150 in one wide panel that covered the whole curve, floating on the thermal insulation of rock wool double density (top side 135 kg/m3 - 210 kg/m3 underside Rockwool). Flexbrick ceramic sheets not only provide a perfectly aligned aesthetic in all its parts, but serve as the waterproofing ballast without requiring mechanical fixings that perforate the continuous waterproofing skin.

EPDM, the new skin

Josep Lluís Puig

Fig. 14 “House Mingo”, Sant Martí de Tous (Barcelona) Arq. Vicenç Sarrablo


Cartagena Sports Palace (Fig. 16) This unique equipment with organic forms or as it was defined by its authors: "Palace-landscape that will merge with the territory" chose Rubbergard 1,1 mm. adhered EPDM to waterproof the entire enclosure.

Fig 16. Cartagena Sports Palace (Spain)




Plancha de alum inio EPDM Rubbergard de FIRESTONE 1,1 mm. adherido con BA-2004

Fusión quím ica m ediante "Junta Rápida" de 75 mm.

R as trel flotante

Faldón de EPDM Rubbergard de FIRESTONE 1,1 mm.


Aislante PIR

Barrera de Vapor

Fig 17. Constructive section of the mechanical fixation without perforation of the waterproofing

The Giscosa-Firestone cold chemical fusion system, that splices membrane to membrane in a completely waterproofed way, in this occasion also served to fix the batten bars without piercing the fully adhered "skin" with the BA-2004 adhesive system.

EPDM, the new skin

Josep LluĂ­s Puig

Each batten was completely enveloped by an EPDM strip attached by the 76mm. QuickSeam Splice Tape rolls, (Fig. 18) after prior application of the QuickPrime that thanks to its active molecules that penetrate deep into the membrane and in combination with the 76mm. Splice Tape completes the molecular bond (Fig. 20). Subsequently the aluminum plates were fixed mechanically to the battens, just piercing the batten and skirt subjection (Fig. 19). The constructive section was tested for wind pressure and suction at TECNALIA, enduring high pressure equipment such as load of 3.000Pa suction.

Fig 18. Fixation of battens without perforation.

Fig 19. Fixation of plates aluminium.

Figura 20. Chemical Union in overlaps.

Fig 21. Cartagena Sports Palace Architects: J. A. SĂĄnchez, M. Mesa y R. Crespi

EPDM, the new skin

Josep Lluís Puig

Conclusions Rollgum / Giscosa / Firestone manufacture of EPDM rubber membranes chooses continuous improvement in the exciting road to excellence, opening our eyes to a reality in constant change, this is why we must be in alert to all the advances in biotechnology, nanotechnology, biomimetics, energy efficiency and any other sector that can provide a plus, no matter how small it may be. We are improving the transpiration of our membranes EPDM by means of the microperforation that allows the step of the steam but not of the water, we turn the EPDM into support of photovoltaic systems with silicon amorphous. Innovating not only thinking about the product and its installation system, but thinking about the whole project and the planet we live on, providing specialized solutions, involving all the company’s departments in order to achieve dynamic business structures, flexible and sensitive, aware of market requirements. We have to keep thinking about “smarter” façades, evermore adaptable, productive and economic. Enterprising initiatives are always met with opposition, fearful of error and with an incapacity to see that there also exists the ”positive mistake" which is nothing more than a detected error on which we can reflect, analyse data and thus not only obtain new experience but also become more efficient as a result of the new knowledge obtained. The “error” which is ignored, minimized or hidden is a lost opportunity, which if repeated produces increasingly worse effects. To promote the synergic meeting between architects and manufactures, boost knowledge between Companies and Universities, Business and Centers of Technology, in a cooperative and pro-active way, without resulting in irritating and unsupportable cost, especially so in the present climate. It is during crisis that inventions, discoveries and big strategies are usually born…[9]

Acknowledgments To the whole human equip of Rollgum-Firestone BP, undoubtedly the most valuable asset that we have. References 1- More information about this phenomenon: 2- Life Cycle Inventory and Assessment of Selected Low Roofing Systems. Tegnos Research, Inc. 3- CTE Código Técnico de la Edificación, Technical code of the building, Spain. 4- UNE-EN-13956 Láminas Flexibles para impermeabilización de cubiertas. 5- UNE-EN-13967 Láminas Flexibles para la impermeabilización. Láminas plásticas y de caucho para el control del vapor. Fachadas 6- DIT Document Technical Suitability, for the Instituto de Ciencias de la Construcción Eduardo Torroja (Spain). 7- Avis Technique, implementation technical document, emitted by the CSTB (France) 8- Mention of ArturFrediani architect. La Vanguardia 02/05/2010. Suplemento Dinero, pág. 34 9- Albert Einstein’s most famous quote.

EPDM, the new skin  

This text will analyze the evolutionary process that the EPDM rubber membranes have gone through, coming to the world of façades from its us...

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