Building professionals need to not just anticipate failures, but also understand how structures fail. Exterior wall systems designed to recover when exposed to failure must be employed to make the building envelope truly robust.
What does it take for gymnasiums or buildings with wide-open interior spaces to achieve a platinum certification under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating program? With a floor area of 700 m2 (7500 sf) and a ceiling height of 7.3 m (24 ft), a typical high school or junior college gym has a vast interior space to heat or cool—approximately 5100 m3 (180,000 cf) of volume—so an ultra-energy-efficient envelope is crucial.1
The conversation about the cavity in masonry wall systems, to say the least, is ongoing. There is a general agreement on the need for separation between the backside of the veneer and the exterior face of the structural backup wall. However, there is some discussion about the functions this cavity performs and their prioritization.
For many years, designers, contractors, and owners have understood the value of a systematic approach to ensure the mechanical and electrical systems in buildings meet the owner’s needs. This approach is known as the commissioning (Cx) process. As a result of implementing the Cx process into the design and construction of buildings, defect claims and litigation related to these commissioned systems are relatively low. The building enclosure (sometimes referred to as the building envelope), however, has often been excluded in the Cx process. Unlike mechanical and electrical systems, poorly performing building enclosures are the most common causes for construction claims and/or construction defect litigation.1