Page 16 — Office Properties Quarterly — September 2019 Are your tenants uncomfortable? We can help. 303.364.3443 We love solving complicated mechanical problems. Industrial Hygiene & Building Services M any of us have been intro- duced to the concept of “building science” or the “building envelope,” espe- cially those who work in the property management, develop- ment, and architecture, engineering and construction industries. But what exactly does the term build- ing science mean and why is it of importance to us? Building science can be defined as a body of knowledge that draws upon the disciplines of engineer- ing, architecture, chemistry, phys- ics, biology and the life sciences to understand the physical behavior of a building as a system. While the behavior of a building might sound like an abstract term (buildings don’t behave, do they?), it is impor- tant to understand how the build- ing acts as a system in affecting energy efficiency, comfort, durabil- ity and indoor air quality. Modern building science incor- porates all of these factors in order to understand the building as a system to improve overall build- ing durability, efficiency and char- acteristics for the life cycle of the building. All too often in the past, buildings were not looked at not as a system, but as a structure with multiple systems within it that affect functionality. Correcting a deficiency of one sys- tem, such as energy efficiency, can and often does lead to undesired consequences, such as energy loss, sick building syndrome or prolifera- tion of mold growth. With the mod- ern advent of innovations to tradi- tional building design and construc- tion, such as green buildings, cool roofs and energy conservation rules, building science has taken on a more important and high-profile function. The building sci- ence approach, where buildings are considered as a system, requires that designers consciously con- sider the interac- tions of the build- ing’s “subsystems,” such as: •Building enclo- sure/building envelope; • Occupants (to include humans, animals, plants); • Building infrastructure (architec- ture, structural, mechanical, electri- cal, water and waste handling); • Building finishes (walls, ceilings, floor coverings, fixtures); • Landscaping; and • Weather and microclimates. When contemplating the building science of a particular structure, it is important to integrate all of the building’s subsystems and infra- structure in successfully designing and building a high-performance building. There are four primary factors common to all structures that have an influence on the performance and durability of a building: • Heat – the heat flowing through a building, including radiant and convective heat; • Air flow – can be considered the ventilation of a building, to account for air leakage; • Moisture – the flow of water/ vapor/humidity across the interior of a building; and • Solar effects/radiation – the effect the warmth of the sun, or lack thereof, has on a building (e.g., condensation). These four parameters always have been a concern in design, build and performance of a build- ing. With the advent of new ideas that affect a building’s performance (think energy conservation, “green” and innovative building materials, ventilation delivery, among oth- ers), the way that designers control these parameters also must change to prevent unintended consequenc- es. These days, there are many new and exciting (and often free) tools that can assist a building design team in employing building sci- ence concepts to improve the performance of a building over its lifetime. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has published an online “toolbox” to assist designers in improving building function with a focus on energy. NREL tools include free access to its “Commercial Technical Pub- lications” library, which includes numerous research papers and guidance documents dedicated to building performance, energy con- sumption and air conditioning. The library even includes papers tar- geting specific types of properties, such as grocery stores and health care facilities. The NREL website also includes open-source (free) interactive pro- grams to assist a building science team in maximizing energy con- servation and selecting optimum building products to increase the building functionality. These inter- active programs include the Techni- cal Performance Exchange, which includes analytical data to facili- tate and improve assessments and comparisons of building-related products, and EnergyPlus, NREL’s open-source building energy model- ing simulation engine, to name just a few. These tools can be accessed at data-tools.html. Oak Ridge National Laboratories also has an open-source online toolbox designed to assist a build- ing science team, including an airtight savings calculator, a roof savings calculator, a cool roof calcu- lator and a whole wall thermal per- formance calculator, among many others ( buildings/tools/). Another resource website is hosted by The National Institute of Building Sciences, which includes a plethora of tools similar to those of NREL and Oak Ridge in addition to a list of links to build- ing science resources (https://www. ence-concepts#ar). The importance of considering the building as a system has taken on a greater role with the advent of new and innovative designs and building products. Analyzing the building as a system of interac- tive subsystems must begin in the design phase of construction, well before the first load of dirt hits the truck. It becomes increasingly What is ‘building science,’ and why is it important? Thomas D. Koch, CIH MSEPM Vice president, Industrial Hygiene and ESH Services, The Vertex Companies Inc. Please see Koch, Page 27