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Dr Rosanne Walker

Research Fellow
Dept. of Civil, Structural & Environmental Engineering


Improving the thermal performance of historic buildings

Keywords: solid brick walls; internal insulation; u-values; thermal images; moisture behaviour; draughts.


The building sector is one of the key consumers of energy in Europe using approximately 450Mtoe per annum of which space heating accounts for around 70% of the total energy use. Retrofitting thermal insulation to existing buildings can reduce unnecessary heat loss minimising energy consumption.

This project investigates a range of internal wall insulation materials including thermal paint on lime plaster, aerogel, cork-lime, hemp-lime, timber fibre board; calcium silicate board and PIR which can have an application in historic and/or modern buildings. The in-situ thermal performance (u-value) and moisture behaviour of the walls was monitored along with laboratory measurement of important thermal and moisture properties. The results provide information on the suitability of different types of internal insulation for historic solid walls.

In addition, the in-situ performance of a range of draught reduction measures such as draught stripping and attic hatches were measured using thermal imaging, air blower testing and monitoring internal room temperatures.

Installation of internal insulation in the Adjutant General’s Building at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, thermal image of a sash window with a thermal blind cover the upper sash.


Project Mentor: Associate Prof. Sara Pavia