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Sustainability 2016, 8(6), 560; doi:10.3390/su8060560

Effect of Thermal Bridges in Insulated Walls on Air-Conditioning Loads Using Whole Building Energy Analysis

Mechanical Engineering Department, King Saud University, Riyadh 11421, Saudi Arabia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Andrew Kusiak
Received: 13 April 2016 / Revised: 6 June 2016 / Accepted: 9 June 2016 / Published: 16 June 2016
(This article belongs to the Section Energy Sustainability)
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Thermal bridges in building walls are usually caused by mortar joints between insulated building blocks and by the presence of concrete columns and beams within the building envelope. These bridges create an easy path for heat transmission and therefore increase air-conditioning loads. In this study, the effects of mortar joints only on cooling and heating loads in a typical two-story villa in Riyadh are investigated using whole building energy analysis. All loads found in the villa, which broadly include ventilation, transmission, solar and internal loads, are considered with schedules based on local lifestyles. The thermal bridging effect of mortar joints is simulated by reducing wall thermal resistance by a percentage that depends on the bridges to wall area ratio (TB area ratio or Amj/Atot) and the nominal thermal insulation thickness (Lins). These percentage reductions are obtained from a correlation developed by using a rigorous 2D dynamic model of heat transmission through walls with mortar joints. The reduction in thermal resistance is achieved through minor reductions in insulation thickness, thereby keeping the thermal mass of the wall essentially unchanged. Results indicate that yearly and monthly cooling loads increase almost linearly with the thermal bridge to wall area ratio. The increase in the villa’s yearly loads varies from about 3% for Amj/Atot = 0.02 to about 11% for Amj/Atot = 0.08. The monthly increase is not uniform over the year and reaches a maximum in August, where it ranges from 5% for Amj/Atot = 0.02 to 15% for Amj/Atot = 0.08. In winter, results show that yearly heating loads are generally very small compared to cooling loads and that heating is only needed in December, January and February, starting from late night to late morning. Monthly heating loads increase with the thermal bridge area ratio; however, the variation is not as linear as observed in cooling loads. The present results highlight the importance of reducing or eliminating thermal bridging effects resulting from mortar joints in walls by maintaining the continuity of the insulation layer in order to reduce energy consumption in air-conditioned buildings. View Full-Text
Keywords: thermal bridges; mortar joints; transmission load; R-value; wall thermal performance; building envelope thermal bridges; mortar joints; transmission load; R-value; wall thermal performance; building envelope

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Zedan, M.F.; Al-Sanea, S.; Al-Mujahid, A.; Al-Suhaibani, Z. Effect of Thermal Bridges in Insulated Walls on Air-Conditioning Loads Using Whole Building Energy Analysis. Sustainability 2016, 8, 560.

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