UCL Energy Institute


UCL research casts doubts over insulating effect of brick and stone walls

12 November 2014


The UK buildings industry has spent decades working with the assumption that the thermal performance of a brick wall was well-measured and could broadly represent real world conditions.  Work by UCL researchers, however, has shown that this is not necessarily the case. 

In a recently published paper, members of The Bartlett School of Environment, Energy and Resources Ian Hamilton, Carrie Behar, Andrew Smith, Phill Biddulph, Bob Lowe, Anna Mavrogianni, Eleni Oikonomou, Rokia Raslan, Sam Stamp, Andrew Stone, Alex Summerfield, David Veitch, Virginia Gori, Tadj Oreszczyn and Francis Li, conclude that widely used assumptions about the thermal performance (U-value) of brick and stone-walled dwellings might be inappropriate for energy and economic modelling.

The results show that in many cases brick and stone-walled buildings have much better thermal performance (lower U-values) than has commonly been assumed. These findings have significant implications for building design and retrofit that may be over-estimating potential energy savings, which have wider effects on modelling UK energy demand, fuel poverty risk and the production of Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs).

More generally, the UCL research updates the evidence base for solid-wall U-values and highlights the importance of basing assumptions about the performance of buildings on real world field data.

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