(Re)Considering Energy and Existing Multi-wythe Brick

by Julie Paul Brown (MDes '14)

Multi-wythe (or “mass”) brick construction has been familiar to global cultures and climates for more than 10,000 years and survives in vast quantities. However, the predominant contemporary energy retrofit approaches for the reuse of existing mass brick buildings in the US fundamentally misunderstand its behavior. The result has led to premature deterioration of the building fabric as well as risk of health and safety issues, among others.

Given these challenges, this thesis critically analyzes the conventional approaches to energy retrofit of these buildings and the assumptions upon which they are based.  As the current approaches have been inadequate, this thesis proposes alternative retrofit strategies for consideration. Proposed alternatives seek energy effectiveness along with energy efficiency to address thermal comfort issues, while providing multiple feedbacks to enhance the endurance of the building and surroundings.