We consult to architects and others who are involved in sustainable building design, bringing the technical disciplines of building science, materials science, and industrial hygiene to bear on sustainability issues.
Specific services we provide in this area are described below:
Moisture Control: We help architects develop details for building envelopes and mechanical equipment that control moisture that could damage sustainable materials. The ideals of sustainability embody the use of recycled materials, which are frequently water sensitive, and energy efficiency requiring high levels of insulation, which increases the thermal gradient across exterior walls. This can increase the moisture drive through envelope assemblies causing condensation and moisture problems. We perform analyses such as hygrothermal computer simulations, to develop details that can successfully deal with these situations. If not dealt with properly, the price can be high. For example, there has been an increasing trend in recent years for mold to become a source for indoor air quality problems in buildings, and for spalling of brick to occur in adaptive reuse of historic brick structures. In the past, exterior walls were uncomplicated structures without insulation, and with vast capability for storing any water that entered the wall assembly; this kept water away from sensitive building materials. Modern construction methods and materials, however, combined with the need to insulate, have changed this. More organic materials that can support mold growth are now used in wall construction. Construction practices moving toward lighter assemblies have removed materials that are able to store water that enters the wall. These trends have resulted in an increase in the number of buildings with the potential to be sensitive to moisture problems and mold growth.
Construction Testing: We provide testing during construction including, moisture measurements prior to installation of finishes, moisture testing of concrete, fireproofing testing, concrete testing, bond testing of adhesives and coatings, adhesion/cohesion testing of sealants, and leak testing of windows and walls.
Construction Administration and Owners Representative: During construction, we provide on-site observation of construction to assure compliance with the drawings and specifications. This is critical for elements such as membranes and coating used for water vapor and air infiltration control, flashing installation, substrate preparation, installation of roof details, sealant installation and field testing, etc. Modern materials are sometimes so sophisticated and proprietary that only the manufacturer of a product fully understands its use and limitation. To assure proper installation of such materials, we typically call for a pre-installation meeting with the technical representative of the material, the installer who will install the material, including the tradesperson who will actually be doing the work, the contractor, and any others who may be impacted by the installation. We then moderate the meeting and provide building science information as needed. The goal for this meeting is to form a partnership of the involved parties with a common goal of succeeding with the project. Typically, this results in revisions or clarifications to details, and detailed installation instructions, which after some clarification becomes a submittal that will be a part of the contract documents, and that governs the work.
Commissioning: We provide commissioning services, taking measurements to insure that the building, as built, meets the goals of the design process. Examples of commissioning activities include, moisture measurements, measurements to determine if humidity is adequately controlled, ventilation and air flow measurements, testing of sealants and coatings, and VOC measurements. We served on the Guidelines for Total Building Commissioning Committee which was jointly sponsored by the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) and the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).
External Web Resources
Our team participates in numerous associations related to architectural design and buildings.
Here are some examples of past projects that illustrate our approach.