Insulating MCC

The Northwest Herald reports that insulation in the proposed fitness center at McHenry County College is being upgraded to R-30 at the extra cost of $227,000. That also includes the cost of a reflective roof.

We had R-40 put in over our second floor when we remodeled nine years ago. I put more than that in the attic of a Woodstock Victorian house (360 S. Madison Street) about 1979.

If we had known about Solarcrete in 1997, we would have put its R-38 walls under our stucco.

One can conclude from the just announced “upgrade” that McHenry County College‚Äôs architects, as too many other public building architects, are really not very concerned with energy efficiency, a topic I have touched upon several times.

I asked Solarcrete’s Pete Konopka to clear something up in my mind. I asked how Solarcrete connected the roof to the walls.

If you click on the diagram, you can enlarge it and see his reply. (Just so you can see a residential application of Solarcrete, I have reproduced another diagram that shows it as well.)

Konopka wrote this at the bottom of the commercial building’s diagram:

“(In) the entire wall from the footing below the frost line to the top of the wall tying into the roof system there is absolutely no thermal connection from the inner surface to the outer surface, including the entire roof. Therefore the building inside temperature is not affected at all by the outside temperature whether it’s hot or cold.”

He notes below the residential diagram:

“Solarcrete walls go below grade to the footing so (the) entire wall from basement up is R-40 with a full vapor barrier. The roof system, either stick built or trusses tie into the top 2 X 12 pressure treated top plate. A vaper barrier and a minimum of R-50 insulation is put in roof area. There are no thermal breaks except for doors and windows, which should be found and used with the best possible R-rating and sealed into the Solarcrete walls.”

The walls go down below the frost line. Eventually, the ground warms because of lack of heat loss.

The top building is constructed of Solarcrete. In this thermal image, heat is shown in red.

The bottom building is one constructed with bricks and mortar.

Compare the heat escaping from the brick building to that radiating from the Solarcrete construction on a 25 degree day.

One can only wonder what other energy shortcuts the MCC architects took that will cost us taxpayers each and every year after the buildings are constructed.

My guess is that a thermal image on a cold day after the health club and basketball courts are completed will have the heat loss of the bottom building.

If so, I would suggest that shows poor stewardship on the part of the McHenry County College board and other officials.

Again, all images can be enlarged by clicking on them.

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