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Vacuum Insulation Panels: Maintaining Clean Lines and Energy Efficiency

Roof balconies and terraces can offer an elegant design solution, allowing internal and external spaces to be seamlessly blended on multi-levelled buildings. For architects, one of the key challenges these features pose is how to maintain a clean, even transition, without compromising the thermal performance of the roof.

For a balcony or terrace with living space below, the options are to insulate either above or below the balcony deck.  Even with high performance insulation products, insulating above the deck can create a significant step up from the room inside. This often spoils the aesthetics of the balcony and may contravene access regulations. Conversely, reducing the insulation thickness will increase heat loss and may lead to non-compliance with energy efficiency regulations.

Insulating below the balcony deck may not adequately solve the issue either as, unless a thicker layer of insulation is also applied above, it can result in problems of interstitial condensation. This approach may also affect the internal appearance of the construction, resulting in a lower ceiling in the room below, with subsequent loss of headroom and feeling of space.

One very effective solution is to install Vacuum Insulation Panels (VIPs) above the balcony deck. VIPs are ideal for applications where a lack of construction depth or space is an issue. The minimal thickness of the insulation can allow consistency of ceiling height and avoids the necessity of a raised transition.

With an aged thermal conductivity as low as 0.007 W/m.K, VIPs such as Kingspan OPTIM-R can offer the same thermal performance as the next best alternative, at a fraction of the thickness. For example, a 40 mm VIP with a 25 mm overlay of rigid thermoset insulation can achieve a U-value of 0.18 W/m2.K on either a timber deck with plasterboard ceiling or a dense concrete deck with suspended ceiling – almost half the thickness that would be required using rigid thermoset insulation alone. This allows excellent thermal performance levels, whilst keeping thresholds manageable.  

Delivering both high quality aesthetics, and energy efficient building design can be a difficult balancing act for architects, particularly when there is little room to insulate effectively. VIPs provide a proven, optimal performance solution which can allow the clean lines of the initial design to be carried through to the finished building.

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