Building envelope thermal defects in existing and under-construction housing in the uae; infrared thermography diagnosis and qualitative impacts analysis

Kheira Anissa Tabet Aoul, Rahma Hagi, Rahma Abdelghani, Monaya Syam, Boshra Akhozheya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The built environment accounts for the highest share of energy use and carbon emissions, particularly in emerging economies, caused by population growth and fast urbanization. This phe-nomenon is further exacerbated under extreme climatic conditions such as those of the United Arab Emirates, the context of this study, where the highest energy share is consumed in buildings, mostly used in the residential sector for cooling purposes. Despite efforts to curb energy consumption through building energy efficiency measures in new construction, substantial existing building stock and construction quality are left out. Construction defects, particularly in the building envelope, are recognized to affect its thermal integrity. This paper aims, first, to detect through thermography field investigation audit construction defects bearing thermal impacts in existing and under-construction residential buildings. Then, through a qualitative analysis, we identify the resulting energy, cost, and health impacts of the identified defects. Results indicate that lack or discontinuity of insulation, thermal bridging through building elements, blockwork defects, and design change discrepancies are the recurrent building and construction defects. The qualitative review analysis indicates substantial energy loss due to lack of insulation, thermal bridging with cost and health implications, while beneficial mitigation measures include consideration of building envelope retrofitting, skilled workmanship, and the call for quality management procedures during construction.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2230
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2 2021


  • Building envelope thermal defects
  • Construction defects
  • Construction quality
  • Energy
  • Existing building
  • Housing
  • Impacts
  • New construction
  • Qualitative analysis
  • Thermal bridging
  • Thermography
  • UAE

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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