While thermal bridging is widely acknowledged to exist in modern commercial building envelopes, little is known on the significance of its impact. Utilizing infrared images taken from targeted assemblies at 15 recently completed buildings; we have seen a range up to 70% less than the design intended R-value. This range shows the unintended impact that design details can have on thermal performance.
We identified 16 common areas of thermal bridging that were frequently observed in the buildings surveyed. Broken into two broad categories of façade systems and transitions / penetrations, they range from curtain wall systems, to existing wall renovations, to conditions such as parapets and transitions to foundation.
The outcome of this research is a better understanding of thermal performance of commercial façades in order to help architects and building professionals understand the real impact of common thermal bridges and present alternatives to the industry standards that enhance performance.