Key Building Science Principles - Essential Pieces of the Puzzle

Claudette Reichel  |  6/25/2008 9:55:33 PM

The Gulf Region has a warm, humid climate with high annual rainfall. It is also in high wind and flood hazard zones as well as the termite belt. No surprises? Nevertheless, common building methods, manufacturer specifications and even building codes may not take all that into consideration.

In this region, your goals should include creating a house that is especially good at:

• Keeping outside heat from getting inside and moving inside heat to the outside (the reverse from most of the nation)

• Draining and drying inside and out (some strategies are the reverse of most of the nation)

• Withstanding abnormal forces of floods, high winds and flying debris

• Shunning termites

• Doing all of that while protecting your health, the environment and natural resources

Below are key principles and facts of building science for this region that greatly affected energy use, comfort, durability and indoor air quality. Important points that are commonly misunderstood or overlooked are highlighted.

Always Remember!

An overriding essential fact to remember is that a house is a system, not just a shell. It’s not only shelter, but also a manipulated environment that attempts to control the movement and amount of heat, air, light, sound, sights and even feelings.

Every component has an impact on the system, so it’s a big mistake to look at any element in isolation. That’s like tossing all your favorite foods into a pan and expecting it to come out of the oven as a prize-winning cake. Each ingredient affects the other ingredients and, if the mix isn’t right, the cake fails.

Many building failures are attributable to changes in building components that offer improvements in some characteristics without compensating for how they change the air or moisture dynamics of the building system.

That’s why a basic understanding of some key principles of building science is so important. They hold true regardless of the product or system used and are an essential tool for evaluating emerging technologies or methods and how they should be applied.

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