Why Building Enclosure Commissioning (BECx) is crucial
Ensuring that a building’s enclosure is adequately designed and installed is a major factor in how well the building will ultimately perform. A building’s performance can be measured in a number of ways, but the safety and comfort of the end user should always be number one.
All building owners need to evaluate whether their new building should implement the BECx process. Why?...
As the construction industry introduces new materials and methods for constructing buildings quicker and cheaper - while deadlines become increasingly reduced - attention to detail inevitably suffers. This leaves building owners with expensive building envelope issues rearing their ugly heads just as occupancy should be getting underway.
These issues typically start with water and air infiltration which then lead to:
- water damage
- freezing pipes
- occupant discomfort
- dangerous stack effect pressure differentials (which make it difficult or impossible to open exit doors)
- and undersized heating and cooling equipment for the inadequate insulation and air barrier installation
Fixing these issues after the building is “complete” is a difficult task due to the components being hidden behind expensive finishes. Time is money, and finding these trouble areas after the fact takes a lot of time. In some cases I have seen projects resort to designing supplemental systems to “hide” the building envelope issues due to the impossible task of locating these trouble areas in the envelope.
Some Helpful Resources
ASHRAE provides guidance on the building enclosure commissioning process from design, installation, and through final operation/maintenance in Guideline 0-2013. Also, the US Green Building Council (USGBC) has recently incorporated building enclosure commissioning as a requirement in the new version of LEED v4.
Finally, doing the research to ensure that your engineer has experience with both design and commissioning can save immeasurable time, cost, and anguish down the line.
ENGVT is experienced with both building design and commissioning. We are often asked to diagnose issues that present as mechanical system deficiencies but are actually building envelope issues that have, in effect, changed the design basis of the HVAC systems.
Having experience as both the design engineer and commissioning agent is instrumental in bridging the gap between architectural and mechanical criteria during the commissioning process.
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