As the future of construction shifts towards modular buildings, certain specifics of this method must be considered when it comes to the choice of sustainable insulation materials.
In recent years there has been a significant shift towards
This form of construction is becoming increasingly main stream globally and now within Australia and New Zealand states and governments are implementing construction code changes and initiatives to help drive the uptake of offsite modular construction.
Almost all off-site or modular constructed buildings incorporate metal framing and need to incorporate insulation to comply with the National Construction Code.
All materials will conduct heat to some extent, but certain materials such as metals will transmit large quantities of heat quicker. Modular buildings rely heavily on metal frames, which can lead to poor thermal performance as a result of thermal bridging. As heat takes the path of least resistance, a significant amount of heat loss or gain occurs through a metal frame. Consequently,the building suffers from a lower thermal performance and in turn becomes a less energy efficient building.
There are several factors that affect the choice of insulation, maximising cost efficiency, customer outcomes and material properties and orientation that meet NCC compliance.
Using a modern continuous insulation material, such as a thermoset foam insulation board, can provide a better solution for modular construction than conventional framed batts. This solution slows the movement of heat through building elements by separating the bridging points in a continuous form. It can be installed quickly on either the internal or external side of the frame, delivering higher performance outcomes and thermal resistance, and in many cases a thinner wall footprint.
The use of metal frames in modular buildings can also lead to an increased risk of condensation, especially if the building is used in colder climates. Condensation may occur as a result of insulation only being installed between the metal stud of a building, lowering its thermal effectiveness and reducing the temperature of materials inside the walls. This also extends to the internal lining, when insulation is only installed between the metals studs it is common for cold spots to occur where the plasterboard has been fixed to the studs. This can lead to damp spots as a result of condensation, also known as ghosting. The installation of a continuous layer of insulation to the outside of the metal frame, keeps the temperature of the frame regulated making it less likely for the temperature to fall below dew point, reducing the risk of mould and condensation.
As these buildings are constructed offsite and then transported to their destination, strict requirements are in place when considering space. Along with needing to fit perfectly together, it is essential for these buildings to be easily transportable, ensuring costs are kept to a minimum. Therefore, the width of these buildings must fall under permitted limits dictated by transit rules. Overstepping these limits can result in the requirement of a special transit permit and potential road closures, both of which increase construction costs.
Using a high performance insulation product with a slim profile means building depth doesn’t need to be increased to fit thicker batt insulation, allowing frame size to be maintained and reducing future transport issues.
Modular buildings are used frequently when constructing buildings, such as hospitals and schools. As these buildings are considered special use, they must achieve a higher level of energy efficiency whilst providing a consistent comfort for all occupants. This has become even more relevant since NCC 2019 introduced the Predicated Mean Vote (PMV) model to assess thermal comfort. As insulation plays an important role when thermal comfort is considered, it is vital to select the right insulation material.
As modular buildings are designed for use and re-use across Australia, a range of different weather extremes and climate zones must be considered. Using an insulation material that is adaptable and performs consistently at a high level, regardless of the climate outside the building envelope is essential.
Kingspan Kooltherm insulation offers the perfect solution for modular building. It offers a continuous layer of insulation eliminating the effects of thermal bridging and reduces the likelihood of condensation allowing for thinner construction profiles. Kooltherm is a high performing thermoset phenolic insulation with a fibre free core making it ideal for roof, wall and floor applications. Being a thermoset material, it boasts exceptional fire performance, demonstrating low fire spread and smoke emission. Our product has been used by Eastern Portable Buildings when developing schools in the ACT. Their Hivve programme helps to build energy efficient classrooms with a high thermal performance that are environmentally sustainable.
To browse the full Kooltherm range visit our website or get in touch with our Technical Services team who will be happy to help you find the most suitable insulation for your project – call 1300 247 235 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
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