What does it take for gymnasiums or buildings with wide-open interior spaces to achieve a platinum certification under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating program? With a floor area of 700 m2 (7500 sf) and a ceiling height of 7.3 m (24 ft), a typical high school or junior college gym has a vast interior space to heat or cool—approximately 5100 m3 (180,000 cf) of volume—so an ultra-energy-efficient envelope is crucial.1
Throughout history, mothers have admonished their children to “wear a hat or you will catch a cold.” While we now know this is not true, mom’s advice provides building professionals with an important reminder why roof insulation is crucial: buildings lose about 25 percent of their heat through the roof when it is cold outside. On hot days, the roofing membrane can hold heat for hours, which puts a burden on air-conditioning equipment.
When one comes across the R 13 + 7.5 ci wall insulation requirement in the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) commercial provisions, it can be tempting to just add the two R-values and install R-20.5 rated insulation in the cavity with the assumption being that the same performance can be achieved with fewer steps.
Masonry cavity drainage construction became the norm when architects and masons came to the realization a simple empty space separating two wythes of masonry with a layer of insulation could provide as much comfort as several feet of solid barrier masonry.
Hundreds of years ago, buildings were thought of much more simply—as shelter, meant to protect people from the elements. Today, that purpose holds, but the technology, practices, and materials that go into high-performing building enclosures have evolved to do more.