Thermal Bridging: A Thermographic Perspective of Epic Scale
What you are looking at through the eyes of thermography is the 86 story Aqua Tower in downtown Chicago. Now, admittedly I find it hard to pass judgement on the architectural skills necessary to build a high rise of this magnitude...its impressive to say you built a high rise - it would look good on a resume. It's also a cool looking building…perhaps the design is not for everyone but it does has a certain je ne sais quoi factor going for it. However, I was in Chicago on several occasions to see this building going up and I and anyone else with an eye for building science could see this structure was going to break all the laws of thermal sensibility as it relates to thermal bridging.
What is thermal bridging? Thermal bridging is what happens when you sit down on a cold park bench and freeze your rear off – literally the process of sitting destroys the heated air barrier between your skin and pants; and the bones in your butt compress the fabric reducing the effective insulation between your cheeks and the seat. The result is a cold rump.
Well in the case of the Aqua Tower, if you extend the interior floor of a building out to the exterior exposing it to the outer elements of heat, wind and moisture it’s like installing a walking conveyor belt (like the type you see in airports) for moving heat and moisture in and out of the building.
The thermographic image shows the various stories’ going up to the top and the colors represent the various temperatures with the hottest temperatures represented by the warmer tones and the colder by the cooler tones.
I’m sure the mechanical and structural engineers had major debates with the architect and clients on this building and evidently they lost out.
So what happens when science loses to artistic expression and culture? Well you get all glass buildings with cooling fins.
This is the type of situation where “feebates” make sense – that being a fee paid by those who want to build bad buildings to those who are willing to build good buildings.
More on thermal bridging and its effect on mean radiant temperature - a key component of thermal comfort.
- Glass versus glass: Winnipeg’s Manitoba Hydro Office Tower vs. Chicago’s Aqua Tower
- Begin with the end in mind
Top and middle photos - source: Wikipedia, (Thanks to A. Tennyson for making us aware of this image.) Bottom photo source: Robert Bean
Announcement: New course dates and locations
Sept. 17-19 Edmonton, AB
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How to establish low energy allowances for delivering thermal comfort and indoor air quality in modern buildings
This three day hybrid course explores the design principles in energy and exergy efficient indoor environmental quality focusing on integrating architectural, interior design and radiant based HVAC system solutions. The core content based on theory and practical applications will revolve around the health, building and HVAC sciences including a study in thermal comfort and indoor air quality, cold climate enclosures, heat transfer, hydronic cooling and heating systems including a detailed study in fluid fundamentals and the hydraulics of hydronics, control valves and balancing, heat terminal units including fan coils, radiant cooling and heating and dedicated outdoor air systems.
This course is for today’s working design practitioner who may be a recent graduate from an architectural, mechanical engineering or interior design program and those from the distribution and contracting professions who already hold design certifications from various institutes and associations.
Experienced professionals who may want to expand their knowledge base on IEQ, controls, radiant heating & cooling, fluid hydraulics and snow melting will also benefit from the program.
Course fee includes 21 hours of instruction, 500 page bound course curriculum with all the slides, formatted 4 per page on 11x17 landscape, industry software and handbooks
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