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Building America Expert Meeting: Interior Insulation Retrofit of Mass Masonry Wall Assemblies

The Building Science Corporation team held an Expert Meeting on Interior Insulation Retrofit of Mass Masonry Wall Assemblies on July 30, 2011, at the Westford Regency Hotel in Westford, MA. Featured speakers included John Straube, Christopher Schumacher and Kohta Ueno of Building Science Corporation, Henri Fennell of Building Envelope Solutions, Inc., and Mark Bomberg of Syracuse University. Some ad hoc presentations were given by practitioners in the audience as well. This was followed by a question-and-answer period and discussion.

Key results from this meeting were:
• Greater understanding of the state-of-art in assessing risks or and performing interior insulation retrofit of mass masonry wall assemblies
• Greater understanding of the uncertainties in assessments
• Definition of key research needs to investigate and potentially reduce uncertainties.

Extensive information was presented on assessment of risk factors for premature building deterioration due to interior insulation retrofits, and methods to reduce such risks.
It was found that conflicting understanding exists, such as general assessment approaches, assessments of masonry material properties, and the inclusion of air spaces between insulation and masonry units in hygrothermal analysis. Little research has been conducted on these issues, as well other major key issues such as the impact the architectural detailing has on rainwater concentration, timber beam pocket strategies, and below grade strategies.

The next steps are to define projects to address the research needs identified at the meeting. One upcoming retrofit was put forward as an opportunity to experiment with methodologies.

The attached report summarizes results from the meeting.