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PDB Debrief: Thermal Breaks in Structural Steel

October 2022


Thermal bridging through structural steel members in building envelopes poses issues with heat loss and condensation in cold regions. Structural steel thermal breaks serve to reduce heat flow through the steel element and have seen extensive use in the construction industry.


Structural thermal breaks prevent condensation and mold, reduce heat loss through envelope penetrations, lower energy costs and carbon emissions, and reduce owner liability – while meeting increasingly stringent building energy codes.



Structural Thermal Breaks are a manufactured product that must be installed with the structural steel erection. Shop Drawings should reflect the proper product as indicated on the design documents. Oftentimes, these can be long lead time items. Insure that the steel supplier has these included and procured or they must be purchased separately with sufficient lead time to avoid delays.


Structural thermal breaks perform two functions: To minimize the transfer of heat across thermal bridges that penetrate the building envelope, and to maintain the structural integrity of the thermally broken connection and transfer loads between the interior and exterior structural elements.



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