Many designers and specifiers understand controlling air, vapor, and thermal transfer helps mitigate moisture problems within the building envelope. Moisture accumulation is a performance adversary that can lead to structural deterioration, finish damage, organic growth, and reduced building longevity.
Sixty percent of U.S. commercial buildings were constructed before 1980. Retrofitting them for energy efficiency is essential to achieve the Department of Energy (DOE) Building Technologies Office’s (BTO) goal of halving building energy use by 2030. Most existing buildings have masonry construction with uninsulated wall assemblies, which offer good potential for wall improvement strategies.
Both fiberglass and stone wool insulation have merit, promote fire protection and sustainability, and offer value to architects, contractors, and property owners alike. This article’s intent is to present a scientific examination of the benefits of using each, in particular with respect to meeting fire and acoustic requirements and codes.
A well-insulated building envelope is the starting point in any energy conservation strategy. The embodied global warming potential (GWP) of the insulating material, as part of a complete wall assembly, must be weighed against the use-phase energy efficiency contribution to see the complete environmental picture.
Architects designing with concrete balconies, cantilevered beams, roof penetrations, parapets, canopies, spandrel glass, and other ornamental architectural features are often limited in executing these design elements because they can create thermal bridges that extend beyond the insulation systems within the building envelope. This can cause condensation buildup in exterior systems and significant loss of energy performance for the whole building.