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Improving thermal response of lightweight timber building envelopes during cooling season in three European locations

Pajek, Luka, Hudobivnik, Blaž, Kunič, Roman, Košir, Mitja
Journal of cleaner production 2017 v.156 pp. 939-952
buildings, clay, climate, construction industry, environmental impact, finite element analysis, insulating materials, models, phase transition, summer, surface temperature, wood, wood wool, Austria, Central European region, Finland, Spain
In recent years the use of wood based products in building industry has expanded. Although lightweight timber constructions essentially decrease environmental impact of a building, their consequential low thermal mass can lead to overheating during summer. Therefore, the purpose of this paper was to investigate various examples of enhanced lightweight constructions from the thermal response point of view. Several improvements were investigated (e.g. clay boards, wood wool thermal insulation, Phase Change Materials, etc.) and compared with the performance of a conventional thermally insulated high mass wall. Finite element model was created and dynamic thermal performance of enhanced lightweight external walls was analysed in three different European locations: Helsinki (Finland), Vienna (Austria) and Madrid (Spain). Certain enhancements resulted in lower internal surface temperature of constructions up to 1 °C, depending on location. In addition, it was shown that in order to further improve thermal performance, application of high intensity ventilation is necessary, which additionally lowered the internal surface temperature up to 8 °C. It was shown that enhanced and naturally cooled lightweight constructions are more suitable for locations with milder summer temperatures (Northern, Central Europe), rather than for hot climates (Mediterranean). It was concluded that the application of lightweight constructions should be thoughtful in order to achieve adequate thermal response of buildings. However, in lightweight buildings the integration of materials characterised by high thermal mass, high thermal effusivity and low environmental impact should be encouraged.