(Re) Considering Energy & Existing Multi-Wythe Brick - Masonry - Contractor Talk

(Re) Considering Energy & Existing Multi-Wythe Brick

 
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Old 05-29-2015, 07:54 PM   #1
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(Re) Considering Energy & Existing Multi-Wythe Brick


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FexaD80wbG0
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Old 05-29-2015, 09:04 PM   #2
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Re: (Re) Considering Energy & Existing Multi-Wythe Brick


I will probably be the only one that watches the whole thing, but I can tell you that she knows just enough to be dangerous. She is not wrong in her goal, but her science is like she got it off the University of Google.

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Old 05-29-2015, 09:46 PM   #3
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Re: (Re) Considering Energy & Existing Multi-Wythe Brick


Well, I learned a new word anyway. Never heard of emergy before.
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Old 05-29-2015, 10:41 PM   #4
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Re: (Re) Considering Energy & Existing Multi-Wythe Brick


I did not go all of the way through the presentation.

It starts to look like an "old school" academic presentation with little real background. It could have been improved with a clearer identification of the real subject.

Based on that, it seems it is directed toward the classic academic approach or the "Building Science" approached that does not really recognize the benefits of masonry from a thermal/energy standpoint that really show in in real annual heating/cooling costs.

Unfortunately, too many people get bent out of shape and try to deal with a simplistic wall cross-section and application of heat flow using the obsolete parallel heat flow cross-section concepts through an idealistic wall section for a short time frame.

The concepts of lateral heat flow and thermal inertia are unfortunately beyond many of the people that get paid or supported to analyze structures for annual thermal costs. - One of the biggest culprits is the cute "Pink Panther" that relies on short term idealized steady state lab tests to promote insulation/loss figures (R-values, etc.) to mislead many people in a cheap way.
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Old 05-29-2015, 11:14 PM   #5
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Re: (Re) Considering Energy & Existing Multi-Wythe Brick


I watched it all as well and have to agree. I didn't really see any terribly new or alternative. Reminded me a bit of some of the "scienc-y"LEED hokum. The hot water idea seemed like academic masterbation, in theory sure, recover unused heat....but there's that little problem of actually getting the heat into the water which is where you'd lose most of the gains from pumps and glycol to water heat exchangers. An off the shelf air-source heat pump water heater would achieve similar goals without the need for piping.

I'll admit that I've never heard of a tempering heating system before though, which seemed kind of interesating, though I'm not convinced its any more effective or efficient than any other radiant heating system. Here's a link to the study they mentioned (http://www.haftcourt.se/Haftcourt/Re...a%20palace.pdf)


It's a really difficult problem though. I was asked once about strategies for retrofitting a heritage stone building but other than upgrading and air sealing the windows, getting a more efficient furnace and air sealing/insulating the attic there wasn't anything I felt comfortable about doing to the walls.
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Old 05-30-2015, 10:19 AM   #6
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Re: (Re) Considering Energy & Existing Multi-Wythe Brick


The jury is still out with me,I will take a wait and see approach since it seems the topic of mass walls and energy are being looked at more closely .


I will say this,in the last year or so,some research has disproven some longstanding misinformation we were told to believe by certain influential masonry organizations. Two that come to my mind are mortar does not bond well to used brick and cored brick has a better mortar bond than solid brick. Both of those fallacies were exposed by testing done by college students writing their graduation papers.
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Old 05-31-2015, 10:04 PM   #7
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Re: (Re) Considering Energy & Existing Multi-Wythe Brick


Maybe its me but it seems the way to make a multi wythe brick building as energy efficient as possible would be to make it a cavity wall on the exterior. Or just quit farting around trying to make a building into something its not. Thermally Ideal. I just made that term up. But if a building is solid brick then the entire wall system is a thermal bridge from the exterior to the interior and visa versa. So at some point your exterior walls are going to be as cold or hot as the outside of the building. Then you have to rely on more energy to overcome the energy trying to force its way into your building. Or start building them with a wythe of fire brick in the middle or something. I'm not experienced in the nuances of making a multiwythe brick building as energy efficient as possible so if I'm incorrect... please be gentle. I do want to know though so please have at it.
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Old 05-31-2015, 10:51 PM   #8
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Re: (Re) Considering Energy & Existing Multi-Wythe Brick


Building a masonry cavity wall, especially with some XPS attached to the inner wythe is the "Cadillac"/"Mercedes" of the walls.

It can give moisture control, good insulation plus the thermal inertia of a heavy wall.

For my personal experience, I was building a 1650 sf lake home myself and using some subcontractors. I had it to the point of having the 8" lightweight block walls built with "eye and pintel" joint reinforcement and the R10 insulation installed. It was roofed (scissor trusses) with 6" fiberglass held up with poly. The exterior brick was not laid yet. It had 4 - 6' sliding doors facing south.

I was there in late November and shut off some breakers when I left. I had to travel for work and did not get back until late February when it was about -20F. I got a call from the propane supplier that I might have a furnace problem since no fuel had been used. When I arrived, it was about 50F inside and the thermostat was set for 55F. I checked the breaker box and then found that I had switched off the furnace breaker by mistake when I left several months earlier.

While I was gone there was a period of about a month of -10F to -25F lows daily (northern MN). There no problems with the exposed water pipes.

It turned out that the southern exposure, heat absorption of the slab (sunlight) on grade and thermal storage of the semi-insulated block walls (R10 only at the time) was sufficient to maintain a reasonable temperature without any internal heat. - That shows the effects of thermal inertia since the insulation of R10 was really not enough to explain the results. - It might have been warmer with heavyweight block, but you cannot split hairs that close.
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Old 06-01-2015, 08:45 AM   #9
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Re: (Re) Considering Energy & Existing Multi-Wythe Brick


Wow. That is a fantastic result. How did the veneer affect the temperature of the building?
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Old 06-01-2015, 12:30 PM   #10
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Re: (Re) Considering Energy & Existing Multi-Wythe Brick


The exterior brick veneer just protected the insulation from the sun and weather and did little for insulation, but is was a vented cavity to allow air flow and prevent moisture penetration.

Also, it looked good and allowed some nice window details.
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Old 06-01-2015, 01:17 PM   #11
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Re: (Re) Considering Energy & Existing Multi-Wythe Brick


I've been thinking about building a house with a masonry cavity wall when that time comes. Hearing these type of testimonies is always encouraging.
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Old 06-01-2015, 07:28 PM   #12
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Re: (Re) Considering Energy & Existing Multi-Wythe Brick


The perfect wall,according to Joe Lstiburek.




http://www.buildingscience.com/docum...types/insights
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Old 06-18-2015, 01:44 PM   #13
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Re: (Re) Considering Energy & Existing Multi-Wythe Brick


Hi folks,
I have to say I was surprised to see my video posted here, but appreciate the discussion (the good and the bad). I would like to say to those who actually watched the whole thing, thank you (you got further than my husband did). I would like to assure one commenter that, no, I did not go the University of Google (but I admit that is funny). I have been investigating the failure of buildings (new and historic) for 20+ years and this is exactly where my interest in the topic came from. It is one reason I went back to graduate school in my 40s, to delve deeper into real issues that are plaguing our industry that we don't have time or resources to deal with adequately while trying to meet a deadline or a budget. The masons and other building scientists, architects and engineers I work with have been very supportive as frankly, no one is very confident in the way we currently approach "energy efficiency" and historic brick buildings.

If it was not evident, this video was created for a thesis review discussion and as such it does not go nearly into what the thesis itself does (it's hard to condense 100+ pages down to 14 minutes). As a result, it lacks context and background. (For example, one comment talked about learning a new word, "Emergy"...with an "m." That is not a typo, it is a term created by ecologist Howard Odum that relates all forms of energy back to the sun.) I'll try not to completely bore everyone in this forum with a long explanation, but Odum researched the way nature maximizes the energy available by continually channeling it through the system. As it courses through, the quality of the energy changes. That is described by the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. This is the crux of my thesis. We don't generally talk about the "effectiveness" of energy...just efficiency. If we start thinking about energy in both ways, then existing mass brick buildings (uninsulated) that last for centuries can be well positioned for "sustainability" imperatives. Thermal activation and tempering may be solutions...or they may not. But the current solutions are not working, so we need to explore others, that's for sure. All I'm asking in this video is how can we think about energy differently in existing mass brick buildings?

I honestly had no idea this was put online and did not intend it to be -I would have a corrected an error in it if I knew it was! (R-value is lowered in wet materials, not U-value.) I am the first to say that more needs to be done empirically and that for every question I asked, many more popped up. I fully expect many doubters out there. I welcome challenge, devil's advocates, etc., but please let's stay constructive. I'm glad to see people talking about it. Thanks for your interest!
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Old 06-18-2015, 02:45 PM   #14
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Re: (Re) Considering Energy & Existing Multi-Wythe Brick


Welcome to the forum, and thank you for responding.

We have another thread going here that is somewhat related, or at least it is easy to tie them together (Resilient Design & Masonry). Part of that discussion is "systems" vs technique (in lieu of a better word). Built up materials vs mass construction basically, and in the context of that discussion, value and longevity as well as aesthetics.

I agree that almost every single attempt to "update" or "upgrade" a mass wall building speeds it's demise, if not causes it. I do not have a solution, but the tempering idea sounds good. How about radiant flooring instead so that you do not have to get into the wall itself?
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Old 06-18-2015, 04:12 PM   #15
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Re: (Re) Considering Energy & Existing Multi-Wythe Brick


Welcome to the forum and thank you for taking the time to defend your thesis.
Can you link to any of the papers you've written on the subject?
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Old 06-18-2015, 04:40 PM   #16
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Re: (Re) Considering Energy & Existing Multi-Wythe Brick


I like radiant floor heating and would choose that over a forced air system for an existing mass brick building particularly if the floors were concrete or terracotta. Certain heavy timber floors can also have good mass. But the success of radiant transfer for heating and cooling people lies in maximizing radiant surfaces. Floors alone can be difficult due to furnishings and finishes. It seems the most successful thermally activated new buildings "activate" the walls, ceilings and floors, but they have control over the building materials (concrete floors/ceilings). This is more difficult in existing buildings.

I agree that not having to open up an existing wall is ideal and I'm not totally sold on embedding anything containing water (walls or floors). From my experience in building forensics, everything seems to leak someday. Some thermal activation can be done with capillary mats applied to the wall face, but that has occupancy/user issues (i.e. hanging a picture on the wall.) The tempering approach was appealing to me as it is installed at the wall face, generally down low and does not require embedding or covering anything. But keep in mind, it is not "heating" or "cooling" so may require supplemental means for improved comfort at certain times of year.

I would love to hear feedback from anyone who has installed radiant floor heating in an existing brick building.
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Old 06-18-2015, 07:50 PM   #17
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Re: (Re) Considering Energy & Existing Multi-Wythe Brick


Glad you responded, I wouldn't have watched otherwise. I try to explain to people all the time why spray foaming an old stone home isn't a good idea, but it always falls on deaf ears. People are sold on insulation as the only way.

It's kind of funny. my grandparents home is stone. 2' walls, 2 stories, and maybe 1500sqft. They heated with 10 face cords of wood a year (I'd know I split it and stacked it every year until I was in my 20's)...the house was always pleasant. I know others on newer (80's) homes with R20 walls and VB that use 10 bush cords....3 times as much wood...in similar sized homes. And you go near a wall at their house and you can feel the cold (or rather the heat leaving)
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Old 06-19-2015, 10:14 AM   #18
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Re: (Re) Considering Energy & Existing Multi-Wythe Brick


As another poster mentioned,the other thread shares some similar aspects of this one. I have posted this link there but feel it is also apropos here likewise.


I would hope that since the originator of that article has no vested interest (that I know of) in any one system that the data is correct and unbiased.


http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/...t-thermal-mass

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