Paper Conference

Proceedings of ASim Conference 2012: 1st Asia conference of IBPSA-China, Japan, Korea


Can mass-timber construction materials provide effective thermal capacitance in new homes?

Mark Andrew Dewsbury, Detlev Geard, Roger Fay

Abstract: Since Australia’s acknowledgement of climate change and its need to reduce greenhouse gas emitting activities, the national construction regulations (BCA and NCC) since 2003 have included residential thermal performance requirements. Initially in 2004 the minimum thermal performance requirements was 4 Stars and in 2010 it became 6 Stars. It is planned during the next decade that the thermal performance regulation will increase to a zero energy requirement. Current policy and regulation development is aiming to include the assessment of embodied energy and carbon sequestration in new homes by 2016. The improvement from no thermal performance regulation to the 6 Star minimum requirements can, in most cases, be met by increasing levels of floor, wall and ceiling insulation, improving glazing selection and reducing house infiltration losses. However, for many parts of Australia the improvements required to achieve 7 Stars or more, will need to include the careful consideration of the type and placement of construction materials which provide thermal capacitance. Traditionally, the materials selected to provide additional thermal capacitance include masonry and concrete based products. However, they are massive and have a relatively high value for embodied energy. Their significant mass requires the structure of the building to be increased, thereby further increasing the quantity of building materials and their relative embodied energy. There has been no research to date exploring whether timber products can provide effective thermal capacitance in residential or commercial construction. This research is exploring the use of unique mass-timber products to provide a new form of thermal performance capacitance within the built fabric of new and existing homes. The development of mass timber products is a new paradigm in material and building science research in Australia, requiring the accounting for carbon emissions, carbon sequestration, material embodied energy and material thermal properties for this renewable resource. This paper focuses on the results from preliminary building simulation studies encompassing house energy rating simulations and a comparative analysis of embodied energy and carbon storage for a series of house plans in Australia. * Corresponding author email:
Pages: 46 - 53