Gimme A Thermal Break: Get Rid of Radiator Fin Balconies

Image credit Schöck Bauteile GmbH

Writing this morning about Studio Gang's Aqua Building, I was reminded of my discussion with Alexander Krenczik, who is trying to introduce thermal break systems that would eliminate the heat loss through balconies. He complained that nobody was interested in North America:

In Europe the question is not whether I should insulate the balcony or not, it is a question of which supplier to use.

But that isn't stopping others from trying to bring these things into North America. Simon Peacock of Archtechnik shows us a system from the UK, which even works with wood frame design.


Images courtesy of Archtechnik

His company distributes a system called ThermConX, which lets architect "bolt on" balconies without creating a thermal bridge. In the UK the building codes are being revised to eliminate thermal bridges and radiator fin balconies.

Not only do you freeze your feet when there is a thermal bridge, it encourages mold.

It isn't a complicated thing; the technology is straightforward and they have been doing it in Europe for years. I don't know the cost of this one, but it probably comes pretty close to Alexander Krenczik's Schöck system, which he said was about $ 50 per linear foot.


Edward Lifson

If you are going to put radiator fins where you don't even have balconies, like they do at the Aqua building, that is going to add up fast, and as Alexander Krenczik noted,

The customer wants hardwood flooring and a granite kitchen counter and for that they pay. No one is interested in the R-value for windows or the balcony. As long as the energy prices are so low in North America and the clients buy what the market provides, it is doubtful that there will be a change in thinking about energy efficiency.

Architects can do wonderful things when they don't have to worry about energy efficiency, but perhaps it is time that the rules were changed so that you get it before you get the granite counters. Give us a thermal break already.

More on thermal breaks:
Why There Are So Few Green Buildings
Big Steps in Building: Get Rid Of Those Radiator Fins

Systems available:
ThermconX
Halfen
Schoeck

Tags: Construction

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