ruminations about architecture and design

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

building science for building enclosures

This is a book I am reading right now by John Straube and Eric Burnett. I understand about 10% of it, but that 10% is quite valuable and enlightening. I have some issues with its format and presentation techniques, but I think it sets a rigorous standard for the building services industry.

A few things I've learned:

1. Air movement is the dominant force in enclosure design. It explains the moisture transport mechanisms and the heat transfer mechanisms.
2. You can measure everything, but you won't have time to synthesize it and predict perfectly how a building will perform. We should also be collecting more data about building performance so that the analysis tools and methods can become more rigorous.
3. Hygric buffering, a fancy term for the water storage capacity in the building enclosure, needs to be respected more. Older, heavier masonry structures will outperform many modern buildings because they can get wet and dry out slowly.
4.The authors don't state this directly, but the next decades should see a dramatic improvement in enclosure technology. The motivation, of course, will have to be a continuing increase in the cost of energy.

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