Everyone’s Going Home... Now is the Time to Evaluate Your Building
Though the beaches may have cleared, and the tourists have gone, there’s work that can’t wait! It’s the perfect moment to schedule property inspections to make sure you’re fully prepared for the next season.
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Waterfront and beach front properties endure significant wear and tear during the summer season. BECS recognizes the importance of not disrupting your operations during the tourist season. That’s why there’s no time like the present to engage our team! Get a thorough building investigation and inspection, allowing us to develop a restoration plan to bring your property back to its former glory before the beaches become bustling once more.
At BECS, we aren’t just consultants, but scientists. This includes harnessing the latest and greatest technologies, like WUFI Technology, to assist in identifying current issues and predicting future complications with the building envelope.
Recently, our experts have been utilizing WUFI Technology. What is WUFI, you ask? In technical terms, WUFI is a German acronym that stands for “Wärme-und Feuchtetransport instationär”. This translates in English to “Transient Heat and Moisture Transport”. We use this software to calculate the coupled heat and moisture transfer in building components. WUFI software achieves realistic calculations of the transient hygrothermal behavior of multi-layer building components exposed to natural climate conditions. (Hygrothermal = Heat + Moisture)
We can implement this technology in many different scenarios, such as:
Calculating the drying time of masonry with trapped construction moisture
Evaluating the danger of interstitial condensation. This a type of condensation that may occur within an enclosed wall, roof or floor cavity structure, which can create dampening.
Determining the influence of driving rain on exterior building components
Assessing the effect of repair and retrofit measures
Analyzing the hygrothermal performance of roof and wall assemblies under unanticipated use or in different climate zones.
Predicting the hygrothermic conditions of a structure before construction begins or before any significant alterations are made (roof, wall, exterior components)
Mitigating the risk of moisture damage (mold, dry rot, corrosion, etc.)
In real-world practice, BECS is currently working on two WUFI projects with Architects for buildings in Philadelphia, PA. The first is a new construction project for a new building where we are analyzing different insulation options for wall systems. We are providing feedback and recommendations on the differences in hygrothermal performance between options.
The second is a retrofit of an old Navy barracks where they are re-purposing the mass masonry wall building into a hotel and are adding air and vapor barriers, insulation on the inside (looking at performance differences in different insulation options), and new interior walls with different finishes.
So, how does WUFI work? To summarize at a high-level, WUFI operates in a few steps:
Create a case in the software by entering in info
Select the layers of assembly and adjust parameters to match materials used
Factor in other details such as climate, weather conditions, wind speed, etc. (More info entered = more precise model)
Run the simulation (WUFI will solve all the partial differential equations for determining moisture and heat flow hour by hour during the course of the day)
Interpret Data (WUFI will reveal how each layer of the wall assembly will react to moisture and temperature over time)
Sounds easy – right? Not so fast. While inputting the necessary data to run a simulation isn’t very daunting, the challenge to using a complex tool like WUFI is understanding the model output.
This is an example of a WUFI “film” showing heat, moisture, and humidity transport through the layers of the wall/woof system over a given simulation period.
This graph shows total water content throughout the entire system over a given simulation period. You typically start the simulation modeling an initial water content and relative humidity based on each material layer to ensure they system dries out over time. This graph depicts the total water content is drying out overtime, which is exactly what you want to see.
Lastly, this graph depicts temperature and relative humidity over time. Relative humidity of 80% or higher is a dangerous level for creating moisture damage in components within the assembly.
Washington DC’s Clean Energy Act and Your Building Envelope
In January of 2019, Washington DC passed the Clean Energy DC Omnibus Act, setting energy standards and goals for the District. The bill is regarded as an ambitious environmental objective aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy inefficiencies. Due to the fact that the majority of greenhouse gas emissions within Washington DC originate from existing institutional, commercial and even residential buildings, the impact of this new bill will largely affect building and property owners as the responsibility to sustainability improve these facilities will be assigned to them.
The Clean Energy Act calls for a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions of 50% by 2032. As part of that objective, the D.C. Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) is establishing a standard that existing facilities must meet, which will be (at a minimum) the current median Energy Star score for D.C. buildings dependent on the property type and size. This suggests that half of D.C.’s buildings could require upgrades. This Building Energy Performance Standard (BEPS) for existing buildings is set to be fully defined by January 1, 2021.
This standard mandates buildings within the District to be evaluated and upgraded accordingly to meet the prescriptive energy performance requirements. For District-owned buildings of at least 10,000 square feet and private buildings of 50,000 square feet or more, the DOEE will assess the structures to be compliant to the performance standard. These energy performance assessments are to be completed on a 5-year basis, beginning in 2021. The ‘umbrella’ of private facilities subject to these standards will also gradually increase: in 2023, privately-owned buildings of at least 25,000 square feet will be held to this standard and private buildings of 10,000 square feet or more in 2026.
Should buildings fail to meet the standards set for by the DOEE, a 5-year window is allotted to the property owner to make the required upgrades to reduce site energy use by 20% or otherwise be cited for violations. An alternative prescriptive set of measures set by the DOEE will also be available to make the building more energy-efficient.
So what does all this mean for your building envelope?
While most would instinctively attribute building energy inefficiencies to outdated HVAC/mechanical equipment, the building envelope is a critical building system that drastically affects your energy consumption. The exterior walls, roofing assemblies, and other exterior building components are the primary defense system between the indoor controlled environment and the outside world. A poorly designed or maintained building envelope can have a complicated series of thermal inefficiencies that not only contribute towards costly energy bills but could also keep your building above the threshold set by the new DC Clean Energy Act. It’s more important than ever for DC building owners to understand their energy consumption as it relates to their building envelope.
BECS offers an extensive set of services that may help assess and improve a building’s energy performance. From outdated windows, insufficient roof insulation, or discontinuous air-weather barriers and more, BECS professionals can perform assessments, hygrothermal modeling, and on-site envelope testing to properly diagnose and address the most vulnerable parts of your building’s exterior. Please do not hesitate to contact us for any inquiries about your building’s energy performance and how it can be improved.