Infrared thermography also known as thermal imaging can provide accurate, nondestructive information about the thermal envelope performance of any building. This includes validation of structural details, verification of energy performance (conduction and air leakage), location of moisture intrusion, and the identification of structural and system degradation of roofs and facades.
Thermography has been used since the 1960s to detect and diagnose building problems. During the 1970s fuel crisis, it was widely used to visualize the thermal signatures related to many building problems. It is common today for many professional home inspectors and energy auditors to use infrared imaging technology to evaluate the performance of this “thermal envelope” (i.e. the walls, fenestration, foundation, and ceiling or roof) for performing energy auditing of homes and buildings. Although thermography can be used to measure spot temperatures on a building envelope, it is commonly used to generate false-color images that relate a temperature scale to a color scale.
This paper discusses the application of the visualization capabilities of IR in conjunction with 3D models of buildings. 3D modeling is a powerful tool for visualizing and representing building conditions that is used by architects, builders, and contractors. Also, a 3D model is better understandable than a more abstract 2D representation (like a floor plan or an image).
A method will be presented to apply IR images to simplified exterior and interior models of a building using the freely available 3D modeler Google SketchUp. A variety of common application scenarios will be presented and examples for these will be shown. In addition, the viability of exploring the 3D model interactively and on the web will be discussed.