Building Envelope Thermal Guide Promises Tighter Building Exteriors

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International Engineering Firm Morrison Hershfield recently released “The Building Envelope Thermal Bridging Guide – Analysis, Applications, and Insights,” a report that aims to overcome obstacles confronting the architecture and engineering industries with respect to mitigating thermal bridging to reduce energy consumption in buildings.

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The guide was developed by Morrison Hershfield in collaboration with co-sponsors and industry partners BC Hydro Power Smart, the Canadian Wood Council, Fortis BC, FPInnovations, and Homeowner Protection Office. Industry partners helped extend the scope of the guide to include many additional details.

Thermal bridging is a fundamental of heat transfer where a penetration of a building’s insulation layer by a highly conductive or noninsulating material takes place in the separation between the interior and exterior environments of a building assembly.

The principle goal of the guide’s authors was to promote energy-efficiency in buildings by increasing awareness of the impact of and methods to mitigate thermal bridging, whether that thermal bridge goes through a wall and its insulation, the space between the glass and steel of a curtainwall or something as simple as a leaky roof, thermal bridging can wreck the best-laid building energy efficiency plans.

Green codes such as the USGBC’s LEED standard award high points for buildings that allow sunlight in through curtainwall, clerestories and large windows for good reason. Studies have shown that human beings respond better to natural sunlight than artificial light. Yet, the ally of happy building occupants can often be the enemy of energy efficiency, as more glass can often lead to more opportunities for thermal bridging and other penetrations of a building envelope.

For that reason, the guide has four simple goals:

-Cataloging the thermal performance of common building envelope assemblies and interface details.
-Providing data driven guidance that will make it easier for the engineering industry to comprehensively consider thermal bridging in building codes and bylaws, design and whole building energy simulations.
-Examining the costs associated with improving the thermal performance of opaque building envelope assemblies and interface details, and forecasting the energy impact for several building types and climates.
-Evaluating the cost effectiveness of improving the building envelope through more thermally efficient assemblies, interface details and varying insulation levels.

Check out the thermal bridging guide to make your projects as energy efficient as possible.

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