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Evaluating rammed earth walls: a case study
conference contributionposted on 2004-01-01, 00:00 authored by P Taylor, Mark LutherMark Luther
The following research has been undertaken as a response to the recent controversy regarding the suitability of rammed earth wall construction as an effective building envelope in regard to its thermal performance. The R-value for rammed earth walls is low hence they might be expected to conduct heat into a building during summer. However the large mass of these walls and the associated thermal lag in heat transfer from outside to inside may result in the walls performing satisfactorily in a building which is only occupied during working hours. Internal rammed earth walls may act as moderators of large diurnal temperature swings helping to produce an even comfortable temperature within a building. Empirical (in situ) measurements of temperature and heat flux were taken on the walls of an existing rammed earth office building in New South Wales, Australia during the summer. An analysis was performed which established a methodology to measure the heat flow associated with the walls, floor, ceiling, windows and infiltration for one office during occupied hours and the net energy transferred between the office and these elements was established. During this time the earth walls performed well. External walls were found to transmit comparatively little heat to the office and the internal walls absorbed heat during this time. Diffuse sky radiation transmitted by the window and infiltration are both likely to be important factors in the summer heat load.