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Thermal Mass

The big question is What is Thermal Mass?

"Thermal mass provides a highly effective means of avoiding or reducing the risk of overheating in the summer. Overheating is a growing problem, linked to climate change. Some lightweight homes with minimal thermal mass could be experiencing particularly acute problems in as little as 20 years. This in turn may result in the need to retrofit domestic air conditioning systems to maintain comfortable conditions. The need for air conditioning can also be exacerbated by the much higher level of insulation and airtightness in modern dwellings which, during the summer, can prevent heat from escaping so readily, thus increasing the risk of overheating. The presence of thermal mass can also help to alleviate this situation.

The thermal mass available in masonry and concrete construction is an intrinsic benefit of these materials, for which there is no additional cost. The energy savings it can provide will obviously benefit the home owner, but there is also an environmental benefit which must be considered: research carried out in 2006 shows that the reduction in energy consumption afforded by the active use of thermal mass can offset the modestly higher embodied Carbon Dioxide in a masonry house in as little as 11 years. Beyond this point, the optimised masonry house continues to emit less Carbon Dioxide, leading to lower whole life emissions than the equivalent lightweight house."

(extract from TCC Thermal Mass for Housing)

The Thermal Mass benefits of concrete masonry should not be considered on their own and should be combined with other factors which can influence the final choice of construction

  • Acoustic Privacy
  • Flood Protection
  • Fire Protection
  • Security
  • Air Tightness
  • Durability

Thermal Mass