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Cityscape: Volume 18 Number 2 | Breathing Wall: Concept and Thermal Performance


Borrower Beware

Volume 18, Number 2

Mark D. Shroder
Michelle P. Matuga

Breathing Wall: Concept and Thermal Performance

Zhiqiang (John) Zhai
University of Colorado Boulder

Industrial Revolution

Every home makes compromises among different and often competing goals: comfort, convenience, durability, energy consumption, maintenance, construction costs, appearance, strength, community acceptance, and resale value. Often consumers and developers making the tradeoffs among these goals do so with incomplete information, increasing the risks and slowing the adoption of innovative products and processes. This slow diffusion negatively affects productivity, quality, performance, and value. This department of Cityscape presents, in graphic form, a few promising technological improvements to the U.S. housing stock. If you have an idea for a future department feature, please send your diagram or photograph, along with a few well-chosen words, to

As advances in building technology continue to transform building energy performance and promote new and innovative construction techniques, traditional challenges are met, and new issues continually arise. One example is the paradigm of improving energy efficiency but compromising the indoor air quality (IAQ) of buildings. Leaky buildings traditionally perform very poorly in terms of energy consumption, but, in general, their IAQ—as a result of the incoming outside air— is fairly good. For the sake of energy efficiency, the trend has been tighter, more effectively sealed buildings, which in turn has led to more IAQ issues, mold, and sick building syndrome (SBS) problems. As the push for improved energy performance points designers and builders toward tighter construction, the very principle that reduces the building’s energy consumption—reduced infiltration—is a net loser for IAQ.

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