This is the fourth post in a series by J. David Odom (ASHRAE), Richard Scott (AIA/NCARB/LEED AP), and George H. DuBose (CGC). It was first published as a mini-monograph for NCARB (National Council of Architectural Registration Boards).

balancing best building practices with LEED® certificationThrough our evaluation of various LEED credit opportunities for designers, we hope to establish the fact that a sustainable building must be equally designed to prevent likely moisture and mold problems. We believe that a building attaining LEED certification is not necessarily a building with a low potential for failure due to moisture intrusion. However, it is our belief that it is possible to combine LEED certification with the best practices for moisture and mold problem avoidance – but it will require extra effort from both architects and mechanical engineers.

An important aspect to avoiding moisture problems in green buildings is the inclusion of the best practices from the waterproofing/HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning) disciplines in combination with the LEED certification principles. It is unwise to assume that LEED certification has automatically incorporated those best practices. Green building practices must always be subservient to best design practices in areas such as exterior waterproofing, good humidity control, and proper due diligence in selecting new construction materials.

In order to facilitate the dual vision of an environmentally-sensitive building with a highly durable, well-performing, moisture-resistant building, we have compressed a significant amount of data into the following discussion. This discussion moves from an overview of LEED® certification points with potential moisture issues (shown in a table) to a more detailed analysis of several specific LEED® credits that we view as examples of high risk. These are credits that align with the consistent truths we listed previously concerning building commissioning, new materials, and ventilation issues.

The concerns raised in our following posts are not climatically or regionally specific, but are universal concerns for all but the most forgiving climates. Forgiving climates would include those areas with very low rainfall, year-round moderate temperatures, and minimal humidity levels. Even in those climates, specific building types could be expected to exhibit problems if best practices are not followed.

To be continued…

J. David Odom is a Vice President and Senior Building Forensics Consultant with Liberty Building Forensics Group. He has managed some of the largest and most complex mold and moisture problems in the country, including the $60M construction defect claim at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu and the $20M claim at the Martin County courthouse. He has also managed over 500 projects for the Walt Disney Corporation dating back to 1982 that have included technical issues related to corrosion, moisture, and design & construction defect-related problems. He has published numerous manuals and technical articles, including a monograph on moisture and mold for the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). For more information, contact J. David Odom at d.odom@libertybuilding.com.

With over 35 years of experience, Richard S. Scott is an expert in the areas of architecture, interior design, and building forensics, with a focus on moisture-related building problems. He is certified by both the American Institute of Architects/AIA Florida and the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). He has published over 30 articles, and has lectured or presented at nearly 40 seminars or events. Mr. Scott has developed various training courses, including a 16-hour IAQ training course for NASA and an 8-hour water intrusion prevention training course for the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC). He can be reached at r.scott@libertybuilding.com.

George H. DuBose, CGC is a certified Florida General Contractor and Vice President with Liberty Building Forensics Group, a firm specializing in moisture intrusion, mold problems, litigation support/buildings forensics, problem-avoidance peer reviews, commissioning, and implementation of green buildings. He has authored numerous articles and co-authored three manuals on moisture-related indoor air quality (IAQ) problems and building commissioning. He has diagnosed and solved hundreds of moisture and mold related building problems worldwide. DuBose can be contacted at g.dubose@libertybuilding.com.