Practices

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An effective handling of thermal bridges in the EPBD context - Final report of the IEE ASIEPI work on thermal bridges

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The ASIEPI project has collected and analysed international and national information from up to 17 EU Member States plus Norway on the topic of thermal bridges in buildings. Seven different aspects have been addressed, ranging from EU Member States’ approaches in regulations to quantification of thermal bridge effects to the energy balance, used software tools and thermal bridge atlases, available good practice guidance and promotion of good building practice to the execution quality and advanced thermal bridge driven technical developments. This report presents the gathered knowledge, draws conclusions, shows good country examples and gives recommendations to specific groups of audience such as policy makers and standardisation bodies but also to educational institutions, building professionals, building owners and the building industry on how to improve the quality of building component junctions and other building parts with possible thermal bridges.
For many of these items it can be said that various at least partly high quality material is available in most of the EU Member States (like software tools for calculating thermal bridges, thermal bridges atlases and promotion of good practice guidance). It would be desirable that the material is used more often by building practitioners and that some countries catch up with the others. Software for calculating thermal bridges should be validated and the validation documentation should be published.
All EU Member States plus Norway consider thermal bridges in the energy performance assessment of new buildings, but to a lesser extent in the assessment of existing buildings that undergo major renovation. A detailed assessment of thermal bridges allows for compensation of other energy influences due to better building junction solutions. The use of default values on the other hand makes the calculation of the energy performance faster. Several Member States have included specific requirements concerning the quality of building junctions in their regulations. These can be maximum linear thermal transmittances or minimum dimensionless temperature factors.
Some countries have a meticulous check of details during or after the design phase of a building. Few countries have a detailed quality assurance of the execution quality on the construction site. ASIEPI has collected ways to assess the execution quality, but also possible sticks and carrots to improve the realisation of building junctions.

The search for thermal bridge driven industry developments was not an easy task. However, the report contains some products that can reduce thermal bridges in buildings significantly. It has to be mentioned that most of the identified products are produced and used in central Europe. A regulation that allows the detailed assessment of building junctions and that is up-to-date with innovations, supports these kinds of solutions (see also another ASIEPI topic ‘The EPBD as support for market uptake for innovative systems’).