Hickok Cole Architects Office.

Building envelopes are the gateway between a building's interior and exterior. They're vital for a building's aesthetics, energy efficiency, indoor air quality, and overall performance.

To ensure a building’s envelope is performing as intended, envelope commissioning, a comprehensive quality assurance process, is utilized. Through design and submittal reviews, field inspections, testing, and ongoing monitoring, envelope commissioning helps to meet specific performance criteria.

Our seasoned building envelope commissioning pro and firm Principal, Bala Srini, shares his knowledge and insights, including how to combine strategies to develop a comprehensive and integrated approach. Whether you're a building owner, operator, architect, or designer, you can employ the following strategies to ensure your building envelope meets the desired performance criteria.

1. Establish clear goals: To begin envelope commissioning, set clear goals and performance targets. These goals can be based on site potentials, climatic conditions, heat island reduction targets, optimizing energy use, environmentally preferable products, enhancing indoor environmental quality, and optimizing operations and maintenance.

2. Conduct a comprehensive design review: Review the building envelope design to ensure it aligns with established goals and performance targets. The design review identifies challenging problems early before construction, saving costs and time. Assess key issues, such as orientation-based facades, facade fenestrations, glazing types, continuous thermal barriers, water drainage plane, waterproofing vapor drive, continuous air barriers, roof and wall junctions, sealants, openings, and penetrations.

3. Pre-Construction: Identify mock-ups, mock-up testing, product submittal reviews, construction checklists, and finalize the performance testing list for the project.

4. Conduct inspections and testing: Site inspections are crucial to identify any potential envelope performance issues before the envelope is closed with finishing materials. Testing may include air leakage testing, thermal imaging, and moisture testing to confirm that the envelope is performing as intended.

5. Identify and address performance issues: Raise issues log and follow-up to address any deficiencies that arise during construction inspections. Testing can validate performance and identify problems. Possible solutions include adjusting the design or construction of the envelope, such as sealing air leaks, adding insulation, or improving ventilation.

6. Monitor performance: After completing the envelope commissioning process, continue to monitor the performance of the envelope to ensure it maintains established goals and performance targets. Regular testing and inspections are necessary to catch any issues that arise and make necessary adjustments.

7. Engage stakeholders: Involve stakeholders, including building owners, operators, and occupants, throughout the envelope commissioning process. This participation ensures that all parties are aware of the goals and objectives and can provide valuable feedback during the process.

By combining all the strategies for envelope commissioning, you can develop a comprehensive and effective approach that improves the energy efficiency and indoor environmental quality of the building envelope. It is important to have a systematic and integrated approach to ensure that all the steps are followed, and that the envelope performs as intended.

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