The Building Enclosure Core

The Building Enclosure Core reflects a very different perspective in enclosure design.  The ‘Core’ refers to all elements of the enclosure with the exception of its exterior cladding system.  It is both physical construct as well as resilience exercise as it embodies the most critical elements of air, moisture, and thermal management. Traditionally the industry…

Open EIFS: A Resilient 100 Year Wall

Open EIFS is an Exterior Insulation and Finish System that achieves high moisture resilience through increased drying capacity and redundant, yet practical, safeguards.  When implemented holistically, this assembly is both durable and high-performing. The concept builds upon research originally conducted by DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which demonstrated high moisture performance in EIFS configured with…

Extreme Climatic Events

Extreme Climatic Events Provide Important Insights For Resilient Design

Extreme climatic conditions are those falling in the upper or lower tenth percentile of the local period of record. North American hygrothermal datasets rely on such extremes in simulating climatic effects on building performance. Prior to 2012, WUFI employed customized 30-year hourly data provided by the U.S. Department of Energy for the 1961-1990 period of…

Climate Data for Building Simulations

Computer simulations rely on a variety of datasets when assessing the effects of climate on building performance.  These data, and the models they power, provide an important basis for planning, design, and cost analysis.  Below I describe some of the major types of climate datasets used in energy and hygrothermal modeling. Weather Years Datasets described…

Improved Moisture Management With Plan Reviews

In an earlier article, we outlined some general aspects of plan reviews and the benefits gained relative to costs (article link).  Here, we focus on plan reviews related specifically to the building enclosure, including roof, wall, foundation, and floor assemblies.  As with all plan reviews, the purpose is focused squarely on minimizing errors and omissions. However, building enclosure…

Plan Reviews: Small Investment, Big Gains

Plan reviews are an important quality assurance and quality control initiative.  They offer significant benefits for building owners, designers, and contractors.  They minimize errors and omissions, reduce risks for the designer and contractor, and minimize change orders assisting in controlled project costs.  Other not-so-obvious benefits include: Minimizing requests for information (RFI) thereby improving project workflow Improved…

Making It Green Does Not Make It Right

The principles and practices of green building have had a transforming effect on the way we build, work, and live. By ‘green’ I refer to a collective of high-performing objectives in sustainability, energy-efficiency, healthy building, and resiliency.  Inherent to its mission are claims of improved building performance – that is, perceived betterments in resource use,…

Moisture Performance Of An All-Wood R-30 Wall

Natural alternatives to foam insulation are highly desirable for high-performing wood-framed buildings.  But lignocellulosic materials can be highly bio-nutritive and moisture absorptive, increasing their vulnerability to degradation and reduced thermal performance.  Designers are often faced with the dilemma of selecting materials that are less environmentally safe for much improved performance.  In this article, I describe a…

Degradation of Fiber Cement Siding

Degradation Of Medium-Density Fiber Cement Siding

Fiber cement cladding has found wide acceptance as a durable and renewable material.   Since entering the U.S. market in the early 1990s, assumptions on its long-term resiliency have relied heavily on wet/dry cycling tests, but little is reported on its durability under typical in-service conditions.   Here we describe four stages of fiber cement degradation under…

Is TimberSIL Resilient?

TimberSIL is a glass-infused wood manufactured by Timber Treatment Technologies.  Marketed as a green substitute to conventional chemically-treated wood, TimberSIL has come under recent scrutiny for questionable performance under intended designed conditions.  We use this situation to discuss the implications of vetting new products on the basis of green material ratings. Criticisms have emerged over the product’s susceptibility to rot and poor acceptance of common coatings.  Perhaps…

Performance Of Decay And Termite-Resistant Wood

In an earlier post, we reviewed standards and implications pertaining to mold-resistant construction materials (December 20, 2013).  We limited our discussion to some of the most widely used resistance tests performed under short-term, laboratory conditions.  Here, we take the discussion further by examining decay resistance tests for treated and untreated wood. Treated wood products provide an essential…

The 2012 Energy Code Necessitates Perfection

Adoption of the 2012 International Energy Code will require exterior continuous wall insulation for climate zones 6, 7, and 8.  When used in combination with cavity insulation, the minimum requirements include 20+5 or 13+10.  The first value pertains to cavity insulation whereas the second is continuous exterior insulation (CI).   Although comparable insulation strategies are also…