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What is ‘Building Science,’ and Why is it Important?

December 19, 2019

Many of us have been introduced to the concept of “building science” or the “building envelope,” especially those who work in the property management, development, and architecture, engineering and construction industries. But what exactly does the term building science mean and why is it of importance to us? VERTEX’s Thomas Koch, Vice President of Industrial Hygiene & EHS Services, discusses the importance of building science in the September 2019 edition of the Colorado Real Estate Journal.

What is Building Science?

Building science can be defined as a body of knowledge that draws upon the disciplines of engineering, architecture, chemistry, physics, 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 important to understand how the building acts as a system in affecting energy efficiency, comfort, durability and indoor air quality.

Modern building science incorporates all of these factors in order to understand the building as a system to improve overall building durability, efficiency and characteristics 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.

Why is Building Science Important?

Correcting a deficiency of one system, such as energy efficiency, can and often does lead to undesired consequences, such as energy loss, sick building syndrome or proliferation of mold growth. With the modern advent of innovations to traditional building design and construction, such as green buildings, cool roofs and energy conservation rules, building science has taken on a more important and high-profile function.

The building science approach, where buildings are considered as a system, requires that designers consciously consider the interactions of the building’s “subsystems,” such as:

  • Building enclosure/building envelope;
  • Occupants (to include humans, animals, plants);
  • Building infrastructure (architecture, structural, mechanical, electrical, 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 infrastructure in successfully designing and building a high-performance building.

Read the full article in the Colorado Real Estate Journal 

To learn more about VERTEX’s Industrial Hygiene & Building Sciences services or to speak with an Environmental Expert, call 888.298.5162 or submit an inquiry.

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