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Improving Energy Performance of Historic Buildings through Hygrothermal Assessment of the Envelope

Published: 15 September 2021
 by  MDPI

Abstract: The intervention on historic buildings through building energy retrofitting has become one of the current challenges of improving energy efficiency. Nonetheless, this building typology presents certain complexities. Among them, one of the most relevant is the protection on their façades due to the historical and/or artistic values of a given façade and, therefore, the addition of external thermal insulation is restricted. However, at the same time, in several of those buildings indoor surfaces do not present that architectural value, and then internal thermal insulation becomes a promising strategy for improving their thermal performance. Nevertheless, its application must be carefully evaluated to avoid possible pathologies caused by moisture problems. This paper aims to identify constructive solutions for interior insulation of walls free from moisture problems. For this purpose, a comprehensive analysis of a series of constructive solutions based on internal insulation has been carried out through hygrothermal simulations. The results show how the application of water-repellent impregnation becomes essential to guaranteeing the integrity of the envelope. In addition, the combination of insulations with or without inner membranes, such as smart vapor retarders or vapor diffusion barriers, has been evaluated detecting the solutions that best fit the objective. Finally, taking advantage of the great potential of 2D simulation tools, the post-processing of the data has been performed to apply the wood decay model, and thus assess the behavior of a very conflictive point in this type of intervention, i.e., the wooden beam-ends. The results in this critical point have shown how the application of the proposed constructive solutions becomes essential to guarantee the integrity of the element and how the application of traditional solutions could lead to a hazard that must be avoided.
Keywords: building energy retrofitting / built heritage / historic buildings / hygrothermal performance / internal thermal insulation composite system (ITICS) / wooden beam-ends / wooden decay model

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