Construction Today - Volume 16, Issue 1 - 10

CONSTRUCTION METHODS
design of high-performance
ยป The
building skins demands more
forethought.

IN THE SKIN

Building skin failures can be avoided. BY JEFFREY C.F. NG, JENNIFER KEEGAN AND MATTHEW RIDGWAY

B

uilding skin failures generally
stem from materials, components
or assemblies that do not comply
with project requirements,
building codes or industry standards. They
are objective, observable and measurable,
becoming apparent throughout a building's
use and operation or through simulated
testing. This means failures can be assessed,
predicted, managed and mitigated.
The design of high-performance building
skins demands more forethought than
building codes or zoning can anticipate.
Studies of failures in newly built skins
suggest the causes can be traced back to
conventional practices in design, value
engineering and construction that lower
quality and limit innovation. Rethinking
the approach to assessing failures and man-

10

CONSTRUCTION-TODAY.COM VOLUME 16, ISSUE 1

aging risks can limit exposure, saving time,
costs and reputations.
Conventional thinking around building skin failures relies on a compilation of
experience and research, resulting in a large
collection of information, multiple competing standards, lengthy checklists, unwieldy
product literature and quality control and
assurance practices during construction.
Failures are categorized by typologies, based
on various phenomena: water infiltration, air
infiltration, thermal performance, condensation resistance, structural performance, glass
performance, finish performance, acoustic
effectiveness and fire protection continuity.
Assessing and classifying failures this way
can become difficult to manage.
High-performance building skin design
is often modified through value engineer-

ing. Sessions are usually conducted in
high-stress conditions when the project is
about to go to bid or has started construction, meaning they are often given lower
priority and insufficient time. Evaluations
are often performed piecemeal and focus on
cost reduction. This can compromise quality
assurance and long term performance.
Under this approach, building skins are
designed with good intentions, but often
succumb to performance failures. They
are fixed with patch solutions that fail to
address life cycle considerations and system
durability. Better remedies and maintenance options, informed processes and
better management of design and construction allow new building skins to perform at
a higher level. This starts with employing
a better way to organize the information


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Construction Today - Volume 16, Issue 1

Contents
Construction Today - Volume 16, Issue 1 - Cover1
Construction Today - Volume 16, Issue 1 - Cover2
Construction Today - Volume 16, Issue 1 - 1
Construction Today - Volume 16, Issue 1 - Contents
Construction Today - Volume 16, Issue 1 - 3
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