Better Buildings by Design
Many modern buildings fail by leaking water, vapor, air and energy and by requiring premature repairs. This site attempts to show the student, apprentice or experienced professional some important new and old building knowledge. You may disagree with some aspects and form your own opinion.
A disconnect within the design disciplines and within the trades is responsible for overly expensive and failing buildings. In our opinion, any designer or builder should have broad knowledge of the "other" disciplines and have in-depth knowledge of their respective discipline.
Design Priority Number 1: Function
The reason to build is to provide a function. This function can be storage, workspace, living or any other reason to have a building in the first place.
Design Priority Number 2: Comfort and Protection
If the building is not comfortable "inside" and protects people, stored material and industrial processes from the "outside" we may as well just stay outside. Comfort is the reason humans first used caves and fire, and later homes and office buildings. Not meeting this objective won't save money - it will lead to reduced productivity, lower sale price, lower rents received and expensive vacancies. Comfort requires to consider:
- Dry Bulb Temperature and Humidity (relative humidity, dew point, wet bulb temperature) - see ASHRAE Standard 55 "Thermal Environmental Conditions for Human Occupancy"
- Air Movement
- Fresh and Clean Air
- Work Furniture and Surfaces
Design Priority Number 3: Reduce overall Life Cycle Cost
If you won the lottery and don't care about cost, stop reading. For everyone else the goal is to provide the required usability at the lowest overall life cycle cost. There is a price to pay to build and operate a building. The financial cost is development, material, energy consumption, maintenance, repair, and replacement. The environmental cost is the impact of the mining, production and use of resources.
How do we get a good Building?
- Design an efficient layout and building shape
- Build a good Enclosure
- Install good Lighting
- Select and Design a good HVAC System
- Add Solar Technology
- Commission the Building
A more efficient enclosure shape is cheaper to construct, allows HVAC system reduction provides more comfort. An enclosure that properly controls water (vapor, liquid), air and heat prevents building damage and saves energy.
Aren't "Green Buildings" already good?
Rating systems that ignore science won’t yield a better building, nor will they protect the environment. We had to fix too many LEED (even Platinum!) certified buildings with dysfunctional HVAC systems and failing enclosures. Don’t fall for Mis-LEED-ing rating schemes.