ADVANCEMENTS IN IMPROVING AIR TIGHTNESS PROPERTIES OF BUILDING ENVELOPES: OUTLINING AN AIRTIGHT CASE FOR FAÇADE TESTING.

By William Whistler, LEED AP, ESTIDAMA PQP, Managing Director of Green Building Solutions International

Sunday, September 3, 2017 — Glass windows and facades, the vital building membranes that keep the ‘Outside Out and the Inside In’ are far more critical in our hot, humid area of the world than has been recognized. The facades of our buildings in the GCC collectively represent the largest single air conditioning challenge in the world today as they are first defense in reducing the cooling load of billions of cubic meters of interior air conditioned space located in one of the Earth’s highest areas of solar heat gain.

Our buildings consume the largest percentage of our electrical energy and the integrity of our building facades have the most impact reducing long term energy consumption; especially air conditioning operation and maintenance costs.

Air leakage in the region’s buildings is a massive problem, because when the building envelope is not secure and tight, air can either leak in or leak out, (infiltration or exfiltration), causing a host of expensive problems, on top of substantially increasing the dollar cost of air conditioning. Air, dust and moisture infiltration can also cause expensive and potentially disruptive problems, which can be averted through proper maintenance.

It is a true saying of any kind of maintenance that ‘if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.’ Of course, there needs to be a business case for every business dollar spent – so this is the math:

AIR LEAKAGE = MAINTENANCE COSTS + ENERGY CONSUMPTION = ‘DOLLAR LEAKAGE’

 

According to DEWA’s Latest report, 84% of the electrical consumption in Dubai goes to the construction and operation of our Commercial, Residential and Public Buildings.

Nearly 70% of that consumption (240,000,000 Kilowatt Hours) is for Air Conditioning alone.

A simulation carried out by National Institute of Standard and Technology demonstrated that almost 35% of energy costs can be reduced by reducing air leakage in buildings.

The integrity of our building envelope will only become more critical in the years ahead. Recent studies have shown that the realities of global warming are being felt more strongly in our region of the world; our extreme climate is becoming more extreme. All aspects of our building facades will need to be more resistant to heat gain, more air tight and better insulated. Glazed portions of our facades will be the biggest challenge as glass as a material can only perform well in these critical areas with better detailing, installation techniques and innovative improvements.

How can we measure the quality of our building facades on our existing buildings today and our new buildings of tomorrow? - By taking advantage of advanced performance testing and data measurement techniques. Our company: GREEN BUILDING SOLUTIONS INTERNATIONAL (GBSI) is the regional leader in façade integrity testing and inspection. We employ the latest technologies and have performed the largest Building Envelope Verification tests and Infrared Thermographic examinations exclusively in the MENA region. The fans used by Dubai-based Green Building International are the largest of their kind in the region, which dispenses with the need to use multiple fans to conduct the test, adding to its speed and efficiency. Our hyper-large testing fans have allowed us to successfully conduct ‘blower door’ testing buildings from a single residential apartment to over 400,000 m3;  we are now testing a 56 story office tower with a volume of nearly 600,000 cubic meters.

To hear more on this critical topic please drop in to hear our Windows, Doors and Facades Workshop:

“Advancements in Improving Air Tightness Properties of Building Envelopes” on Tuesday, 27 September, 11:00 to 11:45 AM

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

William Whistler’s testing data has contributed to both the Dubai Green Building Code and ESTIDAMA standards, with his work on air tightness testing recognised by both governments and leading industry experts throughout the GCC and internationally.

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