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Cold Bridging

A cold bridge, also referred to as a thermal bridge, is the area of a building which experiences higher heat transfer than its surrounding materials.

Cold bridging is a break in the insulation, or spots where there is less insulation all together. A key issue with thermal or cold bridging is, at points where the insulation is penetrated by an element with higher thermal conductivity, energy will transfer through these materials. To put it simply, conductive materials form a bridge between the inside and outside of the building. Where the building is situated in a colder climate, this can result in additional heat loss at these points.

Examples of common applications include:

  

Armatherm™ – Balcony Canopy Cold Bridging Application

Balconies and canopies are typically attached to a building at points along the length of the structure. Both precast and cast-in-place balconies are essentially seen as an extension of the floor slab, making a continuous connection into the building, along the length of the floor. These connections are passed through the building envelope, interrupting the continuous exterior insulation and air barrier to create a thermal bridge. This results in energy and heat loss. 

Armatherm™ – Parapet Roof Penetration Cold Bridging Application

A parapet roof can experience a lot of additional penetrations to the envelope and roof insulation, causing non-continuous insulation. From solar panels, davits and anchors to HVAC systems, chimneys and air intakes, any additional feature on one of these roofs can cause huge energy loss by breaking through any insulation barriers. The roof edge to wall transitions on a parapet are also sources of heat loss. Thermal modeling shows that the R value of the exterior wall reduced by 60% due to bridges where the wall and roof meet. 

Armatherm™ – Cladding Cold Bridging Application

Armatherm cladding attachments significantly improve wall assembly thermal performance by 70% over steel Z Girts. Armatherm Z Girt, comes in 7 standard sizes accepting insulation up to 6” in depth, and provide a secure flange for easily attaching most cladding.  Clip and thermal break shims provide a combination of low thermal conductivity and high compressive strength, transferring load and reducing heat loss. 

Armatherm™ — Masonry Shelf Angle Cold Bridging Application

Masonry veneer walls require shelf angles and tie-backs, resulting in significant thermal bridges which can reduce the R value of a wall as much as 50%. This makes it extremely difficult to meet energy codes. 

Armatherm™ – Column Base Cold Bridging Application

Traditionally, steel columns will extend through the envelope of a building and the insulation within the base. 

Armatherm™ – Foundation Wall Cold Bridging Application

Forming part of a building’s thermal envelope, these often feature an intersection on grade-to-wall connections. This is a shallow foundation where a concrete slab rests directly on the ground. They usually consist of a layer of concrete across the entire foundation, with thickened footings at the edges or below load bearing walls in the middle of the building. These are areas where heat can flow out of the building, as well as at the exterior wall to foundation sections. This is mainly due to non-continuous insulation details. 

Cold Bridging Insulation

 

Armatherm is one of the leading suppliers of thermal break materials for the construction industry. Their key goal is to provide architects, engineers, and contractors with the knowledge and materials to effectively address cold bridging. To protect the future of construction projects, most buildings currently prioritise energy efficency. Addressing cold bridging is therefore high on the agenda. Incorporating Armatherm greatly reduces the risk of cold bridges, which bypass insulation to sap energy and cause unhealthy environments, with the potential for mold and dampness. Thermal breaks offer an effective, long lasting solution to these problems, and Armatherm’s team can advise on the best products for the job.

  

As America strives to reduce carbon emissions by 2030, it’s imperative to identify where improvements can be made, utilizing energy saving advice and materials that will last the lifetime of the building and work towards reducing carbon emissions. Armatherm is continuously improving the product range it offers, and is always developing new products to meet the needs of energy efficient buildings. Including thermal breaks can improve the efficiency of a building by at much as 70%. This results in a more efficient project with lower operating costs and prevention against cold spots where condensation can occur.

  

Cold Bridge Solutions 

With a number of products available to prevent thermal bridging, Armatherm can help you navigate through the solutions to reduce heat loss: 

Armatherm™ Z Girt

The Armatherm Z Girt is a nonconductive cladding support system, strong enough to hold most insulation cladding additions. This thermally broken cladding support material prevents excessive potential condensation. Also, heat flow problems which could arise without the inclusion of a thermal break product. Modeling results show that incorporating an Armatherm Z girt within a cladding project results in several improvements within the thermal efficiency of the wall design, dramatically reducing the heat flow. The innovative design means that the attachments can significantly improve the wall assembly’s thermal performance. For the ultimate solution when it comes to cladding, a combination of Z-girt, clip and shims can deliver the lowest levels of thermal conductivity and high mechanical properties that transfer load while reducing heat loss.  

Armatherm™ FRR

A strong and durable thermal break option, Armatherm FRR is suitable for supporting heavier loads while minimising conductive heat loss through the insulation layers. This structural thermal break provides an innovative combination of low thermal conductivity and high compressive strength. It has been specified in hundreds of structural steel framing connections, transferring load in moment and shear conditions. Made from reinforced, thermoset resin, this material is fire resistant and has the ability to support up to 43,000 psi and has an R value of 0.9 per inch. It’s ideal for structural steel and façade thermal break applications.

Armatherm™ 500

Armatherm 500 is a high strength, polyurethane material, available in a number of different densities to support a wide range of building loads. Incorporating Armatherm 500 thermal breaks within a project significantly reduces energy consumption as well as potential condensation issues. The material is high strength and will reduce energy lost from the building envelope, in a variety of connections. It is made from a high strength, thermoset polyurethane, and manufactured in a variety of densities to provide unrivaled energy saving properties to a number of projects.  Armatherm™ 500 can transfer a wide range of structural loads with a range from 20 psi – 4000 psi. Compared to aerated concrete and wood blocking,  Armatherm™ 500 has R values as high as 3.8 per inch which is highly superior.

Learn more about cold bridging

 

If you’d like to learn more about cold bridging, we have a dedicated team who work hard to ensure support is there for architects and their professional development. Armatherm™’s AIA seminar, “Build Better with Thermal Breaks” gives architects an insight to gain a better understanding of the invaluable properties and savings thermal breaks can offer, as well as how to apply them effectively in your next project to prevent thermal bridging issues. The course has one AIAA LU HSW credit available, you can sign up via the Armatherm website, or by visiting the Hanley Wood University to learn about thermal bridging on your own schedule.

  

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