Paper Conference

Proceedings of Building Simulation 2017: 15th Conference of IBPSA


Evaluating the Thermal Performance of Mass Walls Compared to Wood-Framed and Steel-Framed Walls in Residential Buildings using EnergyPlus

Vrushali Mendon1, Reid Hart1, Martha VanGeem2
1Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Washington, USA
2Self-employed, Mount Prospect, Illinois, USA

Abstract: While homes across the United States are traditionally built using wood-frame construction, mass or concrete walls are popular in certain regions of the country. Mass walls have certain advantages in terms of energy efficiency compared to the lighter wood-frame or steelframe walls; however, conducting hotbox tests and specialized thermal modelling analyses of these walls to evaluate energy performance is often time-consuming and cost-prohibitive. More importantly, heat transfer in real buildings is a dynamic process consisting of the effects of outdoor air temperature and solar gains in conjunction with infiltration and internal gains. These are not captured through isolated hotbox tests or wall section modelling techniques. The latest state-of-art building energy simulation tools can be utilized to overcome these constraints. This paper describes a comprehensive analysis of different wall types using EnergyPlus in all climate zones in the continental United States. The methodology for modelling various wood, steel and mass walls and the development of material properties for use in simulation is described. An overview of the large-scale simulation structure used in the analysis is provided. Resulting energy consumption for various mass walls is included along with a comparison of select mass walls and wood-frame or steel-frame walls. It is observed that mass walls are generally more energy-efficient than woodframed walls in warm and moderate climate zones and insulation placement is an important consideration in the efficiency of mass walls.
Pages: 2599 - 2608