The term ‘decrement delay’ refers to the time it takes for heat to pass through an element of a building (such as an external wall or roof). Typically this is taken to be the delay in hours between the peak temperature of the outer surface of the element on a summer day and the resulting peak temperature of the internal surface.
This concept reflects increasing awareness that the thermal behaviour of buildings is dynamic, rather than static, and that thermal mass, as well as thermal insulation, has a significant impact on the energy efficiency of a building. For example, two buildings with identical U-values may perform very differently depending on their decrement delay, with a longer delay likely to reduce peak loads on building services systems.
The term ‘decrement factor’ refers to the amount by which conditions are moderated by an element of a building. So in the case of the peak temperature on the outer surface of a building on a summer day, this would be the amount by which the peak is reduced by the time it reaches the inner surface. It is expressed as the ratio between the internal surface cyclic temperature variation compared to the external surface.
To reduce summer overheating, a low decrement factor is required, and a decrement delay of 6 to 12 hours.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
Featured articles and news
We review a book aiming to unpick the complexities of building physics.
An introduction to the categories, procedures and types of listed buildings.
This Australian robotics firm have developed a bricklaying machine capable of building a house in 3 days.
20bn devices will be online by 2020, generating huge volumes of information. Is society making the most of this rich data?
Built over a period of 632 years, Cologne Cathedral is considered one of the world's finest examples of Gothic architecture.
UandI adds £1.5bn to development pipeline.
Here are 5 things leaders can do to create a truly circular economy.
Find out about the different types of delays on construction projects.
Researchers at Wien university have developed new system to create an inflatable concrete structure.
Take a look at this newly-opened tower in Chicago with a remarkable 20:1 height-to-base ratio.
The principles, practice and formwork of one of the most important components of modern architecture.