The Concept of Linear and Point Transmittance and its Value in Dealing with Thermal Bridges in Building Enclosures

Linear-Transmittance_icon.pngThermal bridging through insulating layers can greatly reduce the thermal performance of building assemblies. As such, determining the effects of thermal bridging is often of immense importance to building engineers, energy modelers and architects in accurately designing a building. This can be very difficult to accomplish, and as a result many building codes and standards do not comprehensively address this problem.

In North America, the common approach in calculating the area effects of thermal bridging is to use an area weighted average of U-values. For assemblies with easily definable geometry and U-values, such as walls with windows, the area weighted process is straightforward and has been well established. However, for many assemblies, identifying the effective area of a thermal anomaly used in calculations can become either too arbitrary or too complex, especially when dealing with three dimensional heat flow paths. The purpose of this paper is to introduce a simple methodology, incorporating the concepts of linear transmittance, in order to assist practitioners in overcoming these complexities for determining the heat flow through many types of details.

The idea of linear transmittance has been widely used in practice in various forms across Europe. This concept, however, has yet to gain wide acceptance in North American codes, standards and practices. This paper is intended to bridge the two continental approaches, and incorporate linear transmittance into current methods of assessing building enclosure performance in North America.

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