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Energy Efficiency of Pole Barns and Buildings

Comparing pole barn energy efficiency with other building types

1. Post-frame building - Has large wall cavities, typically 8" deep (on a building with finished interior) by 8' wide between columns, which allows for ample amounts of continuous insulation. Furthermore, the wood framing members have some R-value and provide very low heat conductivity.

2. Steel-frame building - Requires insulation to be sandwiched between the outside steel and the framing members. This causes the insulation to get crimped in "waves" around the building. Compressed insulation has very little R-value. In addition, the steel columns act as powerful thermal bridges, transferring valuable heat to the outside during the winter. In fact, steel conducts heat 310 times faster than wood.

3. Concrete block building - Block by itself provides very little insulative value. The blocks' cores can be filled with insulation. However, that provides very uneven R-value because the cores constitute only a portion of the block. Typically, to get a block building warm and tight, additional work must be done. Furring strips can be attached to the block and then insulation applied between, or stud walls must then be built and insulated. Either way, for fire safety, most insulations need to be protected with a covering, such as drywall or steel.