Determination and Assessment of Optimum Internal Thermal Insulation for Masonry Walls in Historic Multifamily Buildings

Amir Amirzadeh, Richard K. Strand, Ralph E. Hammann, Mahabir S. Bhandari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A large portion of existing building stock is comprised of load-bearing masonry buildings, particularly in the Midwest and on the East Coast, though such buildings are distributed across the US. Most of them have uninsulated walls or suffer from insufficient thermal insulation materials. These buildings are inseparable parts of the cultural, social, and economic characteristics of their cities. Due to heritage and preservation concerns, zoning, and space restrictions, they cannot be retrofitted with exterior insulation. Interior insulation must therefore be considered as an alternative. Lack of insulation directly results in energy waste as well as heat loss and gain. Furthermore, it adversely affects heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) loads, equipment sizing, indoor air quality, and thermal comfort for residents. The objective of this study is to simulate and evaluate the effects of various internal thermal insulation materials and strategies on mass masonry load-bearing walls in multifamily buildings with attention to various variables and parameters. It not only addresses the energy performance and cost savings associated with an interior insulation retrofit, but also outlines other variables and parameters that are factors in the selection of optimum insulation material, including installations costs, payback periods, useful internal space loss, and options for the depth of the interior insulation retrofit. The audience for this paper is diverse: homeowners, contractors and remodelers, architects and designers, engineers, housing and preservation authorities, and more can benefit from understanding the results outlined in this study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number04018016
JournalJournal of Architectural Engineering
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018


  • Energy efficiency
  • Energy savings
  • Interior insulation retrofit
  • Masonry residential buildings
  • Optimum insulation thickness
  • Payback period

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Architecture
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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