Temperature Probe in Admin Bathroom
The bottom number of 40°F represents the air temperature of the butcher shop within the structural building on the first floor in the bathroom of the Administration section about one foot up from the slab with the doors and tower vent open at the end of October just before we close up. At the time of the above photo it was 37°F outdoors at 4 pm after a 16°F night time low on a mostly sunny day with all doors and vents still open from the summer.
The air temperature in the butcher shop has floated from 46°F in the dead of winter with the doors closed when it was -20°F outdoors up to 62°F with the doors open in the heat of summer which peaked at 86°F outside.
The top number of 50°F is the temperature down in the plumbing deep within the structural concrete of our butcher shop. That is considerably warmer than the air temperature due to the stored thermal energy within the 1.6 million pounds of the building. Over the past year without heating or cooling the structure has floated around 40°F to 50°F with brief localized spikes when we poured concrete in FCB and Admin which imported large amounts of heat of reaction. The heat of reaction of the concrete we just poured raised the structure in the Admin section to 48°F.
Thermal mass and lots of insulation are the key. The butcher shop acts like a cave that keeps naturally cool in the hot months and warm in the cold months just like our cottage without the need for additional heating. Unlike a real cave we disconnect from the earth because we need some parts to be colder (reefer) and some parts to be a little warmer (Inspector’s office). This disconnect lets me adjust the structural shell temperature and then the inner building of the reefer to the temperatures we need and then they’re very stable. Within the reefer which is within the structural building is the Brine-Cooler-Freezer which are deeper rooms progressively colder.
We just put the front door back on yesterday and will now be able to close the building up for the winter to retain its heat better. At that point the air temperature inside will approach the structural temperature. Since we’ll be applying polyurethane and polyurea coatings with some temperature sensitivity during application we’ll then heat the Admin and initial cutter sections a little to optimize conditions for their chemical reactions. Toasty.
Interesting even with the doors and tower vent open all summer the building stayed cool, like a cave, due to it’s massive store of ‘coolth’ from the winter. Walking in from the hot summer day outside felt like walking into a cooler without any need for mechanical refrigeration. Visitors commented every time on this dramatic demonstration of the passive coolth storage. It also made it very pleasant working on plumbing, metal working and other things during the hot days of July and August when temperatures soared here on the mountain as high as the mid-80’s F. (Yes, I realize that 86°F is nothing to those in more equatorial climates but to us that is very hot!)
One morning late in the summer a cloud rolled through our valley and right in through the open doors of the butcher shop. Low and behold, it started raining indoors! We actually had our own little weather system in the butcher shop. I realized that what had happened was when the warm cloud came into the cool building the cold front of the interior air hit the hot moist air it precipitated raining down on the floors. At first I thought it was simply condensation on the cold surfaces but it wasn’t – and that wouldn’t explain the actual rain that fell inside. The ceilings and walls stayed dry but the floors ended up soaking wet. The tower effect of the building continued drawing in cloud which kept the rain cycle going long enough to soak the floors. I could see the actual edges of the cold clear air vs the warmer cloud moving in the building as it rained. Most unusual. That was the only time I’m aware of it happening although there may have been other times when I just wasn’t present.
In the long run the high thermal mass of the butcher shop coupled with its extreme insulation and thermos bottle arrangement of buildings within buildings will make it easier to keep each section at the right temperatures. Normally energy for refrigeration and heating are a big expenses for meat processing facilities. We’re spending extra on design, engineering, construction time and money for concrete & insulation now so as to save big on energy costs in the future. Greening makes sense, not just from a feel good environmental point of view but at the bottom line where pennies part from pockets.
Outdoors: 37°F/17°F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 59°F/56°F
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