Words: Tom Bovan
When it comes to the energy efficiency of a building, the design of the brickwork support system is integral to minimizing heat loss. Not only does an effective structural system aid thermal efficiency, but it can also improve the design of the façade using innovative technology. For architects, one of the main focuses for building design is its aesthetic qualities. This however can only go so far, as it’s important to ensure that a brickwork system is structurally effective. It is generally overlooked in the industry, but implementing a thermal break solution can help to ensure that the structure is thermally isolated to decrease energy costs.
Generally, brickwork support systems and curtain wall cladding have a thermal weakness, as the mechanical fixings often penetrate the building envelope. In some builds, this goes ignored or unnoticed, and the consequences of energy loss is accepted as a byproduct of the construction process. This, however, does not need to be the case, which is evident through the technologies employed by the team at ArmathermTM.
To put this into perspective, a building can have hundreds of insulation penetrations on just a single wall, creating substantial heat loss. This can be easily solved with a thermal break material, which has dual qualities of being strong and a good insulator. ArmathermTM is made from an inert, ultra-high density, closed-cell polymer, which offers an exceptional high-load capacity while maintaining a low thermal conductivity.
With regard to the actual installation, for a brickwork support system or curtain wall, the material is manufactured into a pad and is profiled to match the clamp area of the bracket, which includes a keyhole slot to allow for a quick installation without removing the clamp bolt. The thermal conductivity of the material is as low as 1.056 Btu·in/h·ft2 ·°F. As a result, this effectively isolates the cold steel from the interior environment, stopping heat from being transferred out of the building. The material also another benefit within this type of application. Attaching stainless steel directly to structural steel can cause bimetallic corrosion., which is accelerated corrosion of metal, due to electrical contact with another metal on a non-metallic conductor in a corrosive electrolyte. Armatherm breaks this contact, which stops corrosion from forming.
Armatherm™ FRR structural thermal break material can be used directly behind the masonry shelf angle as a thermal break within the insulating layer. The Armatherm™ thermal break signiﬁcantly reduces the linear transmittance (heat loss) of the shelf angle connection. Rigid, metal ﬂashing used as waterprooﬁng can also be replaced with a non-conductive, self-adhered membrane to reduce the effects of thermal bridging further.
By applying a thermal break material along with intelligent brickwork engineering, can offer a plethora of benefits to a construction project and the appearance of a final build. As architects continue to work developers to create sustainable energy-efficient buildings that pack a punch visually, understanding the latest technologies available on the market has never been more important. Surprisingly to some, a simple yet effective thermal break has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of dollars on the overall energy costs of a building, and a specialist material such as ArmathermTM can be used to create stunning effects. This makes thermal bridging solutions one of the most important elements an architect can invest in when working on major projects.