"Thermal bridges are localized areas of high heat flow through walls, roofs and other insulated building envelope components. Thermal bridging is caused by highly conductive elements that penetrate the thermal insulation and/or misaligned planes of thermal insulation. These paths allow heat flow to bypass the insulating layer, and reduce the effectiveness of the insulation."
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"Why choose continuous insulation and air barriers? The biggest problem with many insulated buildings involves thermal bridging. These occur when poor thermal insulator materials meet, creating the path of least resistance for heat to pass through."
"The most important aspect of an insulation material is its performance – that it consistently provides the designed-for resistance to the passage of heat throughout the lifetime of the building. Though the insulation manufacturer’s published performance expectations will be an essential guide, other factors associated with the ‘real-life’ installation of the material need to be considered as part of the design process."
Heavy or massive objects like masonry can help improve thermal comfort as well as reduce peak heating and cooling demands in buildings. They need to be designed into buildings such that they can charge and discharge thermal energy which often requires a temperature different between the thermal mass and their surroundings. On exterior walls, they work best when coupled with insulation. They, by themselves, are not good insulators.
How to determine the amount of continuous insulation required by codes, while still retarding water vapor according to climate zone locations
"Insulation materials run the gamut from bulky fiber materials such as fiberglass, rock and slag wool, cellulose, and natural fibers to rigid foam boards to sleek foils."
"Thermal mass is most useful in locations that have large swings of temperature from day to night, such as desert climates. Even if the thermal mass does not prevent heat energy from flowing into or out of occupied spaces, like insulation would, it can slow the heat flow so much that it helps people's comfort rather than causing discomfort."
"While ASHRAE 90.1 has been pushing continuous insulation (CI) for the past decade, the building codes are catching on. And now that the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) has mandated all states to adopt a commercial building energy code that meets or exceeds ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2010, CI specifications are really being cast into the spotlight."
You know what R-value is, but how do they figure it out? And is it really a reliable measure of insulation performance?
The National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS)–under contract from the Army Corps of Engineers, the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, the US Air Force, the General Services Administration, the Department of Energy, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency—has developed this comprehensive federal guide for exterior envelope design and construction for institutional/office buildings.