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Thermal performance and embodied energy of standard and retrofitted wall systems encountered in Southern Europe

Kyriakidis, Andreas, Michael, Aimilios, Illampas, Rogiros, Charmpis, Dimos C., Ioannou, Ioannis
Energy 2018 v.161 pp. 1016-1027
bricks, clay, embodied energy, finite element analysis, heat transfer, models, raw materials, temperature, transmittance, Southern European region
This paper presents a comparative study on the thermal performance and embodied energy of traditional and contemporary walling systems. Three types of building elements were examined: vernacular adobe load-bearing walls, and contemporary thermally insulated infill walls composed of either fired clay bricks or drywall panels. Their behaviour under thermal loads was investigated by means of heat flux analysis using 3D Finite Element (FE) models. The embodied energy was estimated using data from the literature. In addition, alternative refurbishment solutions for improving the thermal performance of each system were examined. According to the outcomes obtained, contemporary masonry systems have lower thermal transmittance compared to traditional constructions. However, adobe walls are capable of providing thermal comfort by efficiently controlling temperature fluctuations, mainly due to their higher thermal mass. The results also highlight the low embodied energy of traditional earthen structures; this is attributed to the simple production and construction processes adopted, as well as to the exclusive use of local raw materials. Most of the refurbishment solutions hereby considered result to a significant upgrade of the systems' original thermal performance.