Precast concrete provides a variety of energy-saving solutions that benefit the owner, architect and end-user. In particular, its high thermal mass provides strong insulating value, which is maximized when it is coupled with an interior layer of insulation to create a high-performance wall.
Precast concrete panels can delay or reduce peak HVAC loads, minimize total loads in many climates and work well regardless of the placement of mass. The panels’ high thermal mass also may help shift the peak hour of electric demand for air conditioning to a later hour and help reduce time-of-use charges.
Nighttime ventilation can be used to cool thermal mass that has been warmed during the day. Local outdoor humidity levels influence the effectiveness of nighttime ventilation strategies. These strategies can help to reduce the overall load in many climates.
The high mass also works well on the inside surfaces by absorbing the heat gains generated by people and equipment indoors. Interior mass from walls, floors and ceilings help moderate room temperatures and reduce peak energy use.
Light-colored precast concrete reduces energy costs associated with indoor and outdoor lighting. The more reflective surfaces will reduce the amount of fixtures and lighting required.
Insulated sandwich wall panels, which typically include 2 or more inches of high-performance insulation between two wythes of concrete, provide even higher energy efficiency. The walls’ fabrication process ensures the insulation cannot shift during or after construction, which can leave gaps in the protection.
Precast’s high thermal mass also minimizes energy consumption naturally, offering an inherent advantage that drops savings right to the bottom line.
Because precast panels eliminate worries about moisture penetration, office, school, and other building managers can reduce HVAC usage when the building is unoccupied for long periods without risking mold growth or creating bad indoor air quality.