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Last edited 12 Feb 2021
A word from our winner
Mark Wilson won our CIOB-backed competition in June with his article about insulation specification. A Chartered Architectural Technologist, Mark is principal at Design Office Architectural Ltd and developer of Building Design Expert. We asked Mark what motivated him to research insulation and why he chose Designing Buildings Wiki to showcase his work.
"You know what it's like, you ask the same question for the umpteenth time and get another answer that doesn’t seem quite right but has become part of the accepted norm. It's a little like the Albert Einstein maxim that dictates if you keep doing the same thing, but expect a different result - then you're mad.
I was continually told that insulation works by 'trapping the air' but I knew there had to be more to it than that. When I was offered the chance to research an article for a journal, it seemed the perfect opportunity to find out the truth. There had to be a commonality around which insulation products operated, beyond trapping air.
When I looked into the manufactured properties of some of the more 'high-tech' materials, it was clear there was no 'air', trapped, moving, or otherwise. There are gases and they are trapped, but I found it's actually more about the resistivity of the material, which is really reliant on conduction as a heat transfer mechanism - certainly in the 'closed cell' materials. Open cell insulants are more about slowing convection, in parallel with reduced conduction.
The journal I published in had a limited audience, perhaps this was price related. Then I found Designing Buildings Wiki and it was the perfect showcase for my research. It gave me the chance to share my findings on an almost infinitely public, global stage. Now when people ask the question – how does insulation work - they will be able to read my answer.”
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