The Effect of Thermal Mass on Annual Heat Load and Thermal Comfort in Cold Climate Construction

Vanessa Stevens, Martin Kotol, Bruno Grunau, Colin Craven

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    Thermal mass in building construction refers to a building material's ability to absorb and release heat based on changing environmental conditions. In building design, materials with high thermal mass used in climates with a diurnal temperature swing around the interior set-point temperature have been shown to reduce the annual heating demand. However, few studies exist regarding the effects of thermal mass in cold climates. The purpose of this research is to determine the effect of high thermal mass on the annual heat demand and thermal comfort in a typical Alaskan residence using energy modeling software. The model simulations show that increased thermal mass can decrease the risk of summer overheating in Alaskan residences. They also show that increased thermal mass does not significantly decrease the annual heat load in residences located in cold climates. These results indicate that while increased thermal mass does have advantages in all climates, such as a decrease in summer overheating, it is not an effective strategy for decreasing annual heat demand in typical residential buildings in Alaska. (C) 2015 American Society of Civil Engineers.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number04015002
    JournalJournal of Cold Regions Engineering
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


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