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EXTERNAL ENVELOPE Breaking the thermal mould


Heat lost through conventionally-wrapped parapets is a common complaint among architects, so an efficient space-saving alternative is welcome, says Schöck’s Chris Willett


n a similar way to the thermal insula- tion issues manifested with balconies, in the case of parapet connections energy is seamlessly transferred through the thermal barrier. In addition, a link between the wall and ceiling can have a shape-dependent impact on the exterior corner, potentially affecting the exterior to interior surface ratio. Anchoring parapets onto a wall or ceiling also presents a material-related thermal bridge compara- ble to a balcony connection.


I


Loss of energy is still several times higher than when a structural thermal break is incorporated


The conventional method of insulating parapets is to wrap the perimeter of the wall with an insulation barrier to make the parapet part of the heated building mass. As a result, the heat outflow is reduced; however, the loss of energy is still several times higher than when a structural thermal break is incorporated. However when the parapet is thermally separated at ceiling level by a thermal break, it sits outside of the heated building mass. The two diagrams on the following page demonstrate heat loss from a parapet with insulation wrapped along its length and a parapet construction using a thermal break. They show that more heat is being lost through the wrapped insulation along the circumference, while in the case of the thermal break, barely any energy escapes through the load-bearing thermal insulation element.


Low U-values


Beyond being an effective insulant, thermal breaks offer more design flexibility as they can connect structurally at specific points. In fact, the levels of insulation achieved when a thermal break is employed are so significant that the solution is a viable choice on Passivhaus schemes.


59


ADF JULY 2017


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