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tower crane and construction site silhouette at sunrise

Constructors and engineers use many different terms to describe the properties of the structures that they create. One of the most common terms that you may have heard being discussed is “u-value”. What is u-value and why is it such an important measure in the construction industry? Let’s find out by starting with a basic definition of what is u-value.

What Is U-Value?

U-value refers to the rate at which heat transfers through a structure (either a single material or composite). In other words, how easily the structure transfers heat from the outside air to the inside of the building and vice versa. The lower the u-value, the slower the structure is at transmitting heat, making it a better thermal insulator, and consequently higher performing.

So, we’ve established exactly what is u-value, but how is it calculated? 

U-value is measured in watts per metre squared kelvin (W/m² K). Calculating the exact value can involve some complex calculations and will depend on the individual building structure in question. However, the basic calculation is determined by assessing the rate of heat flow based on the thickness of the material and the difference in temperature between the inside and outside of the structure.

As mentioned a little earlier on when discussing the question of “what is u-value”, the lower the value the better. This means that heat is transferred at a lower rate, making the building more energy efficient.

Why Is It Important?

Now that we’ve determined “what is u-value”, you’re likely to be wondering why it’s so important in construction terms. The reason that this unit of measurement is so important in the construction industry is because it determines the thermal performance of a building, which in turn influences cost and sustainability

In hot climates, it’s important that buildings do not transmit heat easily from the outside to the inside. This will make the inside of buildings unpleasantly warm, whilst increasing the need to spend money and waste energy on air conditioning units.

In cold climates, the reverse is important. It’s important that warm air from the inside of the building does not escape easily to the outside. This makes the building lack energy efficiency, by wasting heat and increasing energy and money that needs to be spent on heating systems. 

So, in other words, a low u-value is essential for helping to save money, as well as for helping the environment. The better the thermal insulation, the more energy efficient the building is, and ultimately the more eco-friendly and cost-effective it is. 

How Is Good Thermal Insulation Achieved?

When thinking about what is u-value, we’ve emphasised the importance of the value being low, but how is this achieved? The key to achieving good thermal insulation in a building, and consequently saving money and energy, is choosing the right materials. 

That’s why, at Al Manaratain, we’ve designed our concrete blocks to be unrivalled in the thermal insulation that they offer. Perfectly suited to building in hot climates, our insulated concrete blocks have been manufactured using expanded polystyrene that gives them an exceptionally low u-value, reducing the need for air-conditioning. Our lightweight blocks are also relied upon by major contractors for their above average thermal insulation that’s created by their high calorific capacity. 

Al Manaratain Insulated Blocks Piled On Top Of Each Other

To hear more about the thermal properties offered by our concrete products, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.