|Energy Efficiency and Building Diagnostics
How one led to the need for the other.
In the old days, only energy efficiency mattered. No consideration was given to other effects of these energy saving efforts. Hey, it could only be good, right? We now know that, with the passage of time, many of these energy saving ideas caused some big problems. New homes began to have problems. Then commercial buildings. People in one new office building began to notice that the air didn't smell so good. Some of the staff even said that coming to work was making them sick. Maintenance personnel couldn't keep paint on the walls. Even the copier didn't work right anymore! What was going on?
New buildings and old were affected by some of these steps toward "energy efficiency". Depending on what measures were implemented, the effects were sometimes catastrophic. In new construction, buildings were built "tighter" - that is, less air could leak through the walls and windows. This did save energy. In old buildings, some of the same types of measures were taken to "tighten up" the building. Better insulation and more insulation were added to old and new buildings. New lighting that used less energy was installed. It all seems good and it is, if saving energy is the only consideration. But there is more to consider. How did these efforts affect the building occupants? Remember, buildings exist to provide a safe and comfortable working environment for the occupants. This must be a priority or the very reason for a building's existence is void!
Just as the energy saving train was really picking up speed, a new phrase entered our vocabulary - "sick building syndrome". People were getting sick, and it seemed the buildings they worked in were the reason. Added to this puzzling development were the buildings themselves. In some cases they were falling apart. Moisture issues that caused paint to peel, ceilings to sag, drywall to disintegrate and mold to grow had developed. New buildings that were state of the art were having problems, and old buildings that had never experienced any problems before, were now in trouble.
WHY was this happening and why NOW?
It seemed that no one knew. What is now called 'building science' and also 'building diagnostics' was a direct result of these developments. A new way of "looking" at how buildings work. To see a building "as a system". To understand why a building fails and how to fix it or keep it from failing in the first place. A new way of looking at and diagnosing the problems in order to find solutions.
Many problems have been addressed since the initial energy saving days; lessons learned but not always remembered. The same mistakes are still being made today, and with new building materials and building methods, new problems are discovered everyday. New energy efficient air conditioning systems and new methods of cooling and heating our buildings are also creating some new problems.
This is where we can help. Call us today for answers and solutions.
Healthy buildings are our business.!
(Oh, if you'd like to know why all those bad things I mentioned were happening, give me a call and I'll be happy to tell you the rest of the story.)