Thermal Mass and Buoyancy Ventilation

It’s a Cover-Up: Cladding the Interior and Exterior

History professor Dick Hudgen’s TMBV Test Buildings Sketch!

Right now the Thermal Mass and Buoyancy Ventilation team is all about concrete and cypress. They’ve been busy creating and installing the shiplap jointed, 1-1/8″ thick concrete internal thermal mass panels. These panels line the walls of one of the Test Buildings and create the designed cooling and ventilation effects. With Jeff at the helm of formwork building, they’ve completed three out of four panel pouring phases. The panel-making process is separated into phases, so most of the formwork can be used more than once, eliminating waste. Formwork, or molds, are fabricated with precision in the woodshop. The team installed phase 1 before Cory began his journey to Nova Scotia to participate in a residency with McKay-Lions Sweetapple Architects Ltd. Congratulations Cory, we miss you already!

Also on the agenda as of late; exterior finishes! With weather-proofing complete, the team has taken to installing the cladding part of the ventilated cladding system. This system is completed with 8″ and 6″ cypress boards which are protected with Cabot® Bleaching Stain. The stain also helps the wood age consistently in the sun. With Livia cutting and Jeff and Rowe installing, the cypress siding is flying up!

Unseen are the myriad of other little things the team is finishing up such as electrical and grading. The team is keeping the momentum up so stay tuned to see the buildings fully wrapped!

Panel Production

Panel pouring process: Mix concrete, fill form, transfer to vibrating table, trowel, and finish!

Cypress Siding

Neckdown Week with TMBV

Live from Fall 2021 Neckdown Week, it’s the Thermal Mass and Buoyancy Ventilation Research Project Team (TMBV)–and helpers! This week, the team accomplished a variety of tasks with the help of the 5th and 3rd-year students.

First on the agenda, the team completed the Cooling Porch ground surfaces. This included packing crushed ground surface concrete pieces and building the stairs. The Cooling Porch stairs were comprised of stacked concrete pieces cut from the foundation pour excess. David Hill, professor in Auburn’s School of Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Planning, got in on the concrete saw action! Continuing on the stair action, the team also installed the steel stringer and handrails for the Test Building entry. After pouring a concrete footing for the steel stair, Rowe came back and welded on all the treads.

With all the groundwork in the Cooling Porch finally complete and three sets of stairs built, the TMBV team is calling this Neckdown week a huge success. Thank you to all our helpers this week! Next up, thermal mass concrete panels–stay tuned!

Sneak peek of the Test Buildings at the end of Neckdown week.

Gravel Infill

East Entry Stair

South Entry Stair

Steel Stair

Weather Proof and a Roof

Live from the Test Buildings, it’s the Thermal Mass and Buoyancy Ventilation Research Project team. After swiftly assembling the Test Buildings, the graduate team began weatherproofing. The team’s goal is to have the buildings protected from rain quickly so they can get to work on installing the thermal mass panels on the interior. The weatherproofing systems are designed to mitigate heat gain in different ways to eliminate experimental variation.

First, the team covered the buildings in shingled tar paper–a heavy-duty, waterproof construction paper. Next, the team installed battens which create space between the structure and cladding allowing for ventilation and avoiding heat gain. The roof is also ventilated and covered with highly reflective, low albedo corrugated sheet metal. This means the materiality and color of the roof are fighting solar radiation.

Lastly, the team installed the beautiful steel door frames. Turnipseed International donated the steel and Brad of Superior Metals LLC welded the frames Thanks for reading and stay tuned.

Tar Paper and Battens

Roof Battens and Flashing

Roofing Metal

Both roofs complete!

Door Frame

Two Buildings in 10 Hours and 45 Minutes

Live from inside the TMBV Test Buildings, it’s the Thermal Mass and Buoyancy Ventilation Research team! This week the team assembled the structural and insulative envelopes of the Test Building in record time. Instead of traditional timber framing, Structural Insulated Panels (SIP) create the Test Buildings structure. After installing the SIP floors, the students assembled the remaining panels into walls, ceilings, and chimneys. This allowed for each structural plane to be craned into place. Just like a giant Leggo set! The panels were adjusted by two students in an articulating man lift and secured in place using special SIP screws. The joints where walls, floors, and ceiling met were made water and airtight with SIP sealant. In under 11 hours total, all eight walls, two ceilings, and four chimneys came together to create two sturdy, insulated shells. In the coming month, the team will weather-proof the buildings in order to begin installing the thermal mass interiors.

A little bit of Prep!

Building One: 6 Hours

Building Two: 4 hours and 45 minutes

With both buildings assembled, the Thermal Mass and Buoyancy Ventilation Research team is drinking in the rewards of their hard work. This construction method takes a lot of prefabrication and intricate planning to go so smoothly. The team loves the relations of the buildings to each other, to the Cooling Porch, and to the Morrisette Campus. They will be keeping up the momentum so make sure to stay tuned!

Grounded and Floored

Live from atop multiple completed surfaces, it’s the Thermal Mass & Buoyancy Ventilation Research team! They’ve been busy staying grounded and flooring onlookers! The team has nearly completed the Cooling Porch and fully installed the Test Buildings floor and walkway. Let’s get right into it!

Making a Mosaic

After properly stacking the Cooling Porch retaining walls, the TMBV team filled the enclosure with 4″ of gravel. This gravel covers the drain and also acts as a leveling surface for the concrete sidewalk scraps. If it hasn’t been mentioned yet, the final ground surface in the Cooling Porch will be a mosaic of reclaimed concrete sidewalk scraps. These scraps come from a newly replaced walkway in Newbern and will act almost as flagstones.

In order to create this mosaic, the crew labeled and documented the exact size of every piece of sidewalk scrap. They took photographs of the each sidewalk piece with a ruler on top. Next, they sized each one proportionally in the 3D modeling software, Sketchup, where they placed pieces within the cooling porch walls. Afterwards, out on-site, the team laid out all of the sidewalk scraps and prepared to place them in the Cooling Porch.

Flying Floors

Finally, one of the three big lifts to erect the SIPs structures is complete! Before Shane of Sweetwater Construction LLC could lift the Test Building floors and walkway into place, the team had to assemble the SIPs. Each floor is comprised of three SIPs panels, two embedded LVL (laminated veneer lumber) beams, and 2′ x 12′ lumber to cap the ends. The embedded beams allow for the cantilever from the 4 columns.

Underneath the Fabrication Pavillion, the team lifted the SIPs atop the gooseneck trailer where they assembled the different parts and pieces. The embedded beams are coated with SIP seal which ensures a waterproof joint. They are also nailed to the panels. The 2′ x 12′ caps have attached joist hangers to accept the LVL beams.

With both floors complete, it was time to lift! Shane with the crane pulled the gooseneck trailer down AL Highway 61 to the other side of Morrisette Campus. On-site, in place, and ready to lift, take a look at the process below!

The whole process took only 4 hours, but many, many months of prep work and design. Stay tuned to see the TMBV test building go up just a fast and hopefully just as smooth!