I believe that ETFE foil is an extremely efficient fabric roofing membrane in terms of its energy efficiency, long life span, and its environmental benefits. Though the amplification of sound from ETFE’s can be seen a disadvantage, that can be mitigated depending on the designer as well as the incorporations of other materials such as Lumira aerogel to add an acoustic insulation.
ETFE is very sustainable because of its resistance to atmospheric pollution, UV light, and its expected life span of more than 50 years. It also contains all non-petrochemical derivatives making it 100% recyclable1. ETFE has higher range of applications where materials such as glass would not be practical. Due to ETFE being 20 times lighter than glass, extremely translucent, and bearing up to 400X its own weight, it is easy to see why it can be more applicable in non-practical situations.
The National Swimming Centre for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, also known as the Water Cube is a great example in how they used over 100,000m2 of ETFE foils. There was much controversy in China holding the 2008 Olympics due to the extreme air pollution of its cities, so they chose to use ETFE’s as building material to help minimize their environmental impact. Their use of ETFE was able to absorb solar radiation, reduce thermal loss, and maximize the use of natural ventilation and lighting to ensure temperature and humidity control2.