Evaluating ‘Rules of Thumb’ for integrating thermal mass into lightweight construction in Australia

  • YEAR
    Slee, Ben
    Hyde, Richard
    2011 Conference Papers
    Construction Technology
    Sustainability Issues


ABSTRACT: The use of lightweight construction systems is common in Australia. Thermal mass
materials can be combined with ‘lightweight’ domestic timber-framed construction to improve the thermal
performance of buildings. This paper examines design advice available to designers called Rules of
Thumb. These are useful because designers often do not have the information or finance for detailed
thermal modelling, particularly during the initial design stages of the project. The quality of the guidance
given is important to effective building operation. The paper therefore investigates current Rules of
Thumb for construction and suggests how these rules can be improved. It suggests that a holistic
systems approach is needed, climate-by-climate which identifies both the quality (kg/m2) and location
(specific floors, walls, ceilings) of the thermal mass for the specific levels of energy savings and comfort
levels. A number of improvements to the existing Rules of Thumb are recommended such as relating
them more widely to overall building thermal systems and using rules that augment each other. New
rules are suggested for design, which satisfy energy conservation measures now required in practice
and by legislation.


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