On November 24th, 2021, Elsevier published “Energy-Efficient Retrofit of Buildings by Interior Insulation”, a book with a comprehensive overview on the development of energy efficiency for building retrofits and how to cope with problems such as moisture build, and mold growth, based on current research in German-speaking Countries. Are you interested in energy-saving materials and science and practical aspects of building physics? Check out the interview with editors, Karim Ghazi Wakili and Thomas Stahl.
Karim, Thomas, how was the idea to write this book developed? What inspired you?
We were first asked by an acquisition editor of “Elsevier” if we could envisage being editors of a book with a topic of our choice. The invitation came at a convenient time, as we recently had established our institute IABP, so we eagerly accepted.
Our main goal was to foster the topic of interior insulation. This is a much-discussed topic among academicians and practitioners. By using interior insulation, the outer appearance of a building can be maintained while reducing the heat losses but the whole envelope exposed to the cold weather during the winter period becomes colder and hence more sensitive to moisture accumulations which can cause problems.
On the other hand, there was a huge amount of information on this topic in the German-speaking countries (Germany, Switzerland, and Austria) which filled the mentioned gap between academia and practice but was unfortunately mostly unavailable to an international, i.e., English speaking audience. So, we started asking a lot of people whom we knew personally or from their publications if they would contribute. The reactions were overwhelmingly positive. The only condition was that the original texts would be sent in in German and we the editors together with “Elsevier” had to translate them.
The planning was done before the Covid pandemic and should have been finished by the end of 2019-that means a 2-year project. But this was delayed for several reasons. Coordinating the translation of articles by about 30 authors and sending it back and forth for corrections was a tough job. We had also our 3 contributions to be written as well. Getting the permissions and signing the individual contracts was also a challenge for us as editors and for our partners at “Elsevier” who supported us in every manner they could. Without their help, this book would never have become published.
Who should not miss reading the book?
The book is filling a gap between theory and practice and is relevant for practitioners, architects and even students who are interested in applied building physics. It contains the latest practical knowledge in a wide range of specialities and will attract the multidisciplinary audiences.
The book focuses on a wide range of materials and applications. How did you make sure to select the right authors and topics?
First of all, together we had several decades of experience regarding “Building Physics” and have read a lot of publications dealing with the wide range of topics this discipline covers. Through multi-sided international collaborations within EU-Projects or IEA-Tasks as well as regional projects, we had a fair overview of people involved in the topic of internal insulation applied to buildings. Of course, at the end of the day, you have to make a selection based on our personal and hence subjective experiences. And we did not have endless time and page numbers at our disposal. This is the case of every book we presume.
Was there any time you thought this big project would never finish? How did you stay motivated?
Oh yes for sure. The translation was more demanding than we initially thought. We had the help of some machine translations at the first stage which then was corrected and adjusted by us. But the structure of nested sentences so common to German texts was stretching the machine translations to their limits. The translation of texts incorporated into figures had also to be done “by hand”.
Nevertheless, machine translations helped us to speed up the work.
The contributions themselves were our main motivation. We learned a lot about the many details you normally overlook.
Which chapter is your favorite? Why?
Well, there is no favorite chapter. Each makes its contribution to the book just like a bunch of flowers in a bouquet to speak in colorful terms!
But for sure, there were favorite contributors, those who responded quickly and made their corrections in the shortest time delay 😊!
Will the IABP team again write a book in the future?
This was a challenging endeavor being an editor. For the next year, we have already submitted a proposal for the financing of a rigorous update of a well-known textbook on “Building Physics” in German together upon the invitation of our former colleague and head of the dissolved Laboratory for “Applied Building Physics” at Empa.