Improving the Performance of Solid Masonry Buildings: Balancing Energy Efficiency and Durability

April 29, 2011
Publication: Building Enclosure Sustainability Symposium 2011, Integrating Design & Building Practices: Proceedings of the 2nd Symposium p 324-336

Abstract: The renovation and reuse of existing buildings and materials is a cornerstone of sustainable building practice. Masonry buildings, many of which are over a hundred years old, are good candidates for renovation and reuse because they have withstood the test of time and proven themselves as durable and reliable structures. Masonry also contains a significant amount of embodied energy, and renovation of these buildings typically requires fewer resources in terms of both building materials and energy use, compared with constructing an entirely new building. Current building codes however, require energy efficiency improvements through the addition of insulation, air barriers, and vapor retarders. These seemingly minor changes can significantly affect the performance and durability of individual components or whole systems.|This paper outlines some the effects of adding code-mandated measures to improve the energy efficiency of masonry buildings, and evaluates the risks of those measures including potential implications on the performance and durability of the building envelope. This paper also introduces whole building energy simulation as a tool to evaluate the relative benefits and drawbacks of various energy efficiency improvement options available. The exterior climate and internal loads and use of the building also impact renovation options.|This paper concludes that while it is possible to reduce the energy use in masonry buildings, the risk of reducing the wall system durability must also be considered. There is a tradeoff between energy performance and durability for masonry buildings and, consequently, balance among various building performance factors must be achieved to produce sustainable buildings.