Thermal performance of buildings

BRE supports industry and client aspirations to achieve improved thermal performance in their buildings.  BRE provides practical services to clients, via our publications and research and advice.  BRE support clients by helping them understand best practice when considering their building design.

BRE supports industry to achieve good thermal performance in buildings through publications, consultancy and research and provides services to clients seeking advice on building design and regulatory requirements.

Thermal Modelling

Thermal bridging and compliance with Building Regulations – Building regulations require that thermal bridging be taken into account in SAP and SBEM calculations. The junctions that need to be accounted for include wall-floor junctions, wall-roof junctions, lintels, jambs, cills, intermediate floors, balconies, corners, party walls and other significant junctions. Their effects are expressed in terms of Ψ-values, or linear thermal transmittance values, and, unless they are recognised Accredited Details, they should be evaluated using thermal simulation software, following agreed conventions and standards.

BRE Scotland specialise in undertaking analysis of the thermal performance of buildings, building components, junctions, thermal bridge analysis and associated services leading to legislative compliance and improved energy performance  calculations.

Conventions for U-value calculations
(BR 443, 2006 Edition)

There are various standards dealing with the calculation of U-values of building elements. The conventions provide guidance on the use of the standards, indicating the methods of calculation that are appropriate for different constructional types, providing additional information about using the methods and providing data relevant to typical UK constructions.

The U-value conventions were original published in 2002 and the 2006 edition is an update which provides additional information and reflects changes in the underlying British Standards. It can be downloaded as a PDF using the link on the right and it is also available as a printed booklet from

Conventions for Calculating Linear thermal transmittance and Temperature Factors (BR 497)

Amongst other measures that address the need to reduce CO2 emissions, that of having better insulated buildings requires more sophisticated methods such as numerical modelling to calculate the heat loss caused by thermal bridging at wall, roof and floor junctions and around openings.

This guide gives the conventions that should be followed by numerical modellers to produce consistent, reproducible results. For building regulation purposes two key modelling outputs, temperature factor and linear thermal transmittance, are identified. These key outputs will enable designers to confirm the adequacy of particular junction details and help with the development of novel solutions to improve the thermal performance of junctions.

This publication can be purchased from the Updates to BR 497 can be found at Live updates to BR497

In-situ U-value Measurement

A U-value can be established by several theoretical calculation methods described in the BRE publication “Conventions for U-value calculations” and the U-value calculator software available from BRE Bookshop.

In existing dwellings theoretical evaluation of the thermal resistance (R value) or thermal transmittance (U-value) can be difficult for the following reasons:

  • materials traditionally used in buildings are not homogeneous and their thermal conductivity values are not always available,
  • establishing the exact dimensions of layers of materials require destructive methods which may be not possible in the case of existing dwellings.

This document describes an alternative method of establishing U-values of walls – “In-situ measurement of thermal resistance and thermal transmittance” given in BS ISO 9869. The procedure applies only where a defined number of measurements are undertaken for a development at different times to calculate an average U-value figure.

This method can be applicable of establishing representative U-values of walls for wider developments assuming that measurements and analysis are carried out in accordance with BS ISO 9869. It should be remembered that it may lead to long periods of measurement and may give erroneous results in certain cases. Note that this method would not be suitable for establishing U-values for a single dwelling for the purposes of EPC.