This is the sixth 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).

Intent of EA 1: Verify that the building’s energy-related systems are installed and calibrated, and perform according to the owner’s project requirements, basis of design, and construction documents.

Intent of EA 3: Begin the commissioning process early during the design process and execute additional activities after systems performance verification is completed.

Building commissioning (even the enhanced version of commissioning in LEED EA Credit 3) is not likely to prevent catastrophic moisture and mold problems. Traditional commissioning fails to accomplish two primary requirements in avoiding moisture problems:

1. The design review is not likely to be a “standard of care” technical peer review, but is more often a review intended to determine if the constructed building, once built, can be commissioned and if the design meets the Owner’s intent. In our experience, the typical design review will not predict the potential for moisture and mold problems. Without this prediction, it cannot offer specific solutions to avoid them.

2. These reviews are not required to incorporate an analysis of the building envelope’s performance – the acknowledged component that fails the most frequently and usually the most dramatically.

What the building science industry has known for some time is that moisture and mold problems are often very predictable, even in the early design stage. However, for this analysis to be successful, the review team must be very savvy about what combination of design choices create a high risk of causing problems and what other choices are lower risks.

Figure 3.1 shows an example of the predictability of moisture and mold problems in a hotel-type building.

continuous toilet exhaust chart

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.