Thermal bridging demystified

04Oct16

by Andrew Lundberg

“Thermal bridging…oh yeah…that’s really important stuff…I really think someone should be doing that on every project…”. That’s the response I get from most people (in an industry context) whenever I mention that I’m an Accredited Thermal Modeller in Ireland and the UK. And they’re right…someone should be doing that on every project, or at least taking an educated look to see whether more might be required than is currently being done regarding treatment (or lack thereof) of thermal bridging in construction projects. The industry is more mindful, and knowledgeable, of thermal bridging than at any point in the past, but the unfortunate reality is that in general that knowledge is still quite far off where it needs to be. We’ve gone from not knowing what thermal bridging is at all, to knowing something about what it is but feeling that someone else should be the one to do it. And therein lies the disconnect.

We need to step up to the plate on this, big time. Everyone in the design & construction process (as well as your Granny) knows that mould growth & condensation typically occur at building junctions long before it ever appears on planar elements of buildings. We’ve become pretty expert at designing planar element constructions to achieve excellent U-values and prevent interstitial condensation risk, but when it comes to stitching the parts of the building together, things go a bit pear shaped. Sure, structurally we’re as strong as oxen, acoustically as insulated and sealed as a rehearsal studio, and when it comes to spread of fire no stone is left un-turned. But when it comes to thermal performance at junctions, most designs are typically as effective as an inflatable dartboard.

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