Sustainability: Thermal Mass

There is now an urgency to design and build structures that can cope with predictions for future climate change. It is therefore entirely appropriate to consider passive technologies that can be used instead of energy intensive air conditioning. Increasingly, design teams are incorporating the use of thermal mass into their structures. All of Lignacite’s products have the potential to contribute to a design solution that can prevent overheating and provide a more comfortable internal environment. However, the benefit of thermal mass can be maximised by using fairfaced products, such as Lignacite’s AFM masonry. Products in this range offer an unrivalled choice of colour and texture. Because they are intended to be left fair and provide a high level of mass, they are better able to thermally interact with the occupied.

Basic Operating Principle

For many building types including commercial buildings and dwellings, a more sustainable solution to combat the risk of overheating is to utilise high thermal mass elements together with night cooling. This approach, also known as fabric energy storage (FES), typically focuses on the building’s thermal mass optimised by using fair faced blockwork as well as exposed concrete floor slabs. The walls and floors absorb heat, helping to reduce overheating and ensuring a more stable internal temperature. Night time cooling purges the stored heat from the walls and the slabs, preparing it for the next cycle.

Further information

A number of publications are recommended which provide authoritative information on the benefits of incorporating thermal mass into a structure:

  • Thermal Mass – A Concrete Solution for the Changing Climate. Reference TCC / 0505. www.concretecentre.com
  • Thermal Mass for Housing – Concrete Solutions for the Changing Climate. Reference TCC / 0405. www.concretecentre.com
  • Climate Change and the Indoor Environment: impacts and adaptation. Reference TM36, CIBSE, 2005. www.cibse.org