Optimizing Thermal Performance of Building Envelopes by Mitigation of Thermal Bridging – Experimental and Numerical Investigation




Alhawari, Abdalhadi

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Due to regulatory requirements and a growing environmental consciousness, improving building energy performance is crucial in today's construction industry. Thermal bridge, which compromises buildings’ energy efficiency, durability, and indoor air quality is a pressing concern for building design and performance. This research aims to explore and address the phenomenon of thermal bridges in building envelope construction by offering valuable insights and innovative solutions. Two analysis methodologies have been incorporated in this research. The first method is a finite element simulation tool (HEAT3), which was used to predict the efficacy of the proposed ideas. The second method is a laboratory investigation that was performed using the hot box apparatus. A crucial aspect of this research initiative involved designing, constructing, and calibrating a unique hot box apparatus. This apparatus was constructed using vacuum insulation panels (VIPs) as core materials for its envelope. The choice of materials and construction details ensured exceptional temperature stability with minimal fluctuations within the chambers, a crucial factor for the performance of the hot box apparatus. Owning such a test facility provides a substantial advantage such as the ability to conduct multiple tests for each sample in significantly shorter timeframes, unlike commercial laboratories. Laboratory assessment is an important method to evaluate the real-world performance of building components. Besides numerical analysis, this dissertation stands as the first to experimentally assess the efficacy of an available thermal break product, which was highlighted in the literature as the most effective technique to mitigate the impacts of balcony thermal bridges. This dissertation also investigates two novel techniques aimed at reducing heat loss through balcony thermal bridges. Another key focus of this research was to investigate the impact of a generic aluminum cladding attachment system on the thermal performance of lightweight steel-framed wall systems. Overall, the outcomes of this research initiative demonstrate a high degree of consistency between results obtained through numerical simulations and experimental measurements. This work serves as a valuable resource for architects, engineers, and policymakers, facilitating the promotion of sustainable and energy-efficient building practices. It not only addresses critical issues related to thermal bridges but also proposes innovative solutions and provides a robust experimental platform to advance our understanding of building performance and energy efficiency.



Thermal Bridges, Hot Box Apparatus, Numerical Analysis, Building Energy Performance, Balcony Thermal Bridges, Cladding Attachments