Thermodynamics Simplified Heat Flows from Warm to Cold

Originally published by the following source: Applied Building Technology GroupAugust 15, 2018
by Timothy Ahrenholz with contributions by Kirk Grundahl, P.E., Larry Wainright and Sean Shields


Designing a resilient building envelope can seem intimidating, especially with all the building and energy code requirements. And while there is no getting around the complexity of the interactions between a building’s interior, its walls, and the surrounding environment, things make more sense when you take the time to look at the fundamental physics at work. The second law of thermodynamics, which can be simplified to concepts like moisture flow is from warm to cold, also states that the a closed system like a building will try to move toward equilibrium. Hence the need for continuous insulation, which slows this movement and makes buildings comfortable.   This knowledge allows us to craft effective building science and building envelope solutions to manage this behavior. Many of these solutions are described in detail at, whether you are designing commercial walls or residential walls.

In this video, in a series we are featuring, Joe Lstiburek summarizes how the principles of thermodynamics apply to building envelopes, and this is a good place to start as you explore

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