Assessment of hygrothermal performance and mould growth risk in ventilated attics in respect to possible climate changes in Sweden
Journal article, 2012
Most of the last 20 years in Sweden have been mild and wet compared to the 1961–1990 climate reference period. After a few relatively cold years in the mid-1980s, practically all years have been warmer than the preceding 30 years average. During the indicated period, an increase of moisture-related problems (mould growth) was observed in ventilated attics, a moisture sensitive building part.
This work investigates hygrothermal performance of ventilated attics in respect to possible climate change. Hygrothermal simulations of attics were performed numerically in Matlab. Four attic constructions are investigated – a conventional attic and three alternative constructions suggested by practitioners. Simulations were done for the period of 1961–2100 using the weather data of RCA3 climate model. Effects of three different emissions scenarios are considered. Hygrothermal conditions in the attic are assessed using a mould growth model. Based on the results the highest risk of mould growth was found on the north roof of the attic in Gothenburg, Sweden. Results point to increment of the moisture problems in attics in future. Different emissions scenarios do not influence the risk of mould growth inside the attic due to compensating changes in different variables. Assessing the future performance of the four attics shows that the safe solution is to ventilate the attic mechanically, though this solution inevitably requires extra use of electrical energy for running the fan. Insulating roofs of the attic can decrease the condensation on roofs, but it cannot decrease the risk of mould growth considerably, on the wooden roof underlay.