This is the seventh 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).

Some concepts that should be included in building commissioning to reduce the possibility of mold and moisture problems include the following:

  • During the design phase, a technical peer review of the document should identify issues which will likely be a major cause of moisture and mold problems in the operating building. This review may need to be accomplished by someone other than the traditional commissioning agent since they may not have the requisite skill set to conduct this type of analysis. It’s our opinion that this review needs to specifically identify which building components and systems have a high potential for moisture problems and offer alternative solutions to the design team.
  • The commissioning process needs to consider the inter-relationship of the building envelope and the HVAC system. This area is often overlooked because it involves the dynamic interaction between two separate technology areas.
  • The building area needs to be commissioned in a manner that would avoid rainwater leaks, excessive air leakage, and condensation problems. In cases where the envelope is commissioned, both individual envelope components (like windows) should be tested as well as assemblies of multiple adjacent components. Testing individual components does not address the connection points and intersections between various envelope components where most of the failures occur. Assembly testing can include a mix of qualitative (Figure 3.2) and quantitative testing, such as ASTM tests.
building commissioning

Figure 3.2: Qualitative water testing of window and stud wall assembly after installation of membrane water proofing. Note spray rack (red arrows) above and to the side of window that washes the wall while the cavity side of sheathing is checked for leaks.

  • Construction phase commissioning of envelope components may require adjustment of installation methods based on test results. Checklists should be developed that allow for certification that such adjustments are implemented (Figure 3.3).
building envelope

Figure 3.3: Checklists for commissioning of sliding glass doors. These checklists are completed by the contractor. The checklists may be modified after installation and quantitative testing of the first several doors.

 

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.