apartment at long jetty

What is Thermal Bridging?

In architecture, where aesthetics often take center stage, it's easy to overlook the silent culprit that can compromise a building's energy efficiency and occupant comfort—thermal bridging. While it may not be as visually striking as a sleek facade or avant-garde design, the significance of addressing thermal bridging cannot be overstated. 

Thermal bridging occurs when a conductive material, such as metal or concrete, creates a pathway for heat to bypass insulation, leading to a loss of energy. These bridges act as conduits for heat transfer, facilitating the movement of warmth from the interior to the exterior of a building or vice versa. Unlike insulation, which resists heat flow, thermal bridges exacerbate the loss or gain of heat, resulting in increased energy consumption and decreased thermal comfort.

Implications of Unaddressed Thermal Bridging

Energy Inefficiency:

Unchecked thermal bridging can significantly compromise a building's energy performance. Heat loss during colder months and heat gain during warmer months force HVAC systems to work harder to maintain a comfortable indoor environment. This increased energy demand not only escalates operational costs but also contributes to a higher carbon footprint.

Condensation and Moisture Issues:

Thermal bridges can lead to the formation of cold spots within a building envelope. When warm, moist air comes into contact with these cold surfaces, condensation occurs. Prolonged condensation can result in mold growth, compromising indoor air quality and the structural integrity of the building. By preventing thermal bridging and the thermal condensation issues they often have, other harmful things such as mold can be prevented in a building.

Decreased Comfort for Occupants:

Thermal bridging can create noticeable temperature variations within a space, leading to discomfort for occupants. Cold spots near windows or other structural elements can make certain areas less appealing for use, impacting the overall usability of the space.

Addressing Thermal Bridging: Best Practices

High-Performance Insulation:

Selecting and installing high-performance insulation materials is a fundamental step in mitigating thermal bridging. Continuous and uniform insulation systems can help break the thermal bridge and maintain a consistent temperature gradient across the building envelope. Using insulation with low VOCs such as straw bale or sheep's wool ensures that the insulation is also healthy for the ocupants.

Thermal breaks in windows:

It is important to specify window and window frames that have a thermal break between the inside and outside. These may be timber frames or metal frames with a plastic break built into them. Click here for a guide to specifying windows.

Insulate Slab Edges:

By insulating slab edges, this means that the heat or cool stays inside the building and is not conducted outside.

Creating Thermal Breaks in Penetrations

Ensuring that there is a thermal break in any penetration to the building including ventilation and skylights is really important.

apartment at long jetty

These articles are produced with the assistance of Chat GPT, then edited to provide more specific information based on our experience submitting projects. This article was heavily influenced by "Australian Wood Heaters currently increase global warming and health costs" by Dorothy L Robinson. and this Better Health Victoria article.