Construction Today - Volume 16, Issue 1 - 11

'Inspectors can
observe first
order failures
on site or the
manufacturing
line.'
Order of Failures
First order failures consist of linear openings,
discontinuity or non-uniformity within a
component or contiguous components of the
building skin assembly. Examples include
holes in a sealant joint, unsealed penetrations in a barrier membrane or damaged
structural members. Generally, these failures
are local defects, typically found at a discrete
point in the component's surface, running
from the exterior to the interior. They can be
repetitive and may be the result of deficiencies on site or in the fabrication plant.
Inspectors can observe first order failures
on site or the manufacturing line. After
installation, they are challenging to identify
without the aid of probes and diagnostic
testing. Using specified, approved components and quality control programs can help
manage and resolve first order failures.
Second order failures generally consist of a
defect or deficiency in assembly components
within the skin, such as planar gaps or joint

discontinuity. Examples include lack of sealant adhesion to incompatible substrate, improper lapping of flash materials allowing water
to enter in an uncontrolled manner or lack of provision for differential movement at structural connections.
Qualified installers, pre-installation meetings, construction supervision, coordination between trades, mockups, testing and third-party inspections can help manage and alleviate second order failures.
Better attention to engineered drawings and documentation, and
the use of well-maintained equipment operated by staff trained in
state-of-the-art methods can also help.
Third order failures are ones of size, volume or design capacity.
Improper material selection, omission of pre-installation laboratory
testing or improper engineering or design may lead to a failure to
comply with performance requirements of the building skin system.
Examples include improper flashing assembly height for required
water resistance, inadequate insulation thickness and excessive deflection of oversized glass panels. These failures may be due to forces
not anticipated by building codes that overload design capacity,
like extreme wind loads or weathering, or they may be the result of
conflicting or unanticipated performance requirements .
Computer simulation modeling, physical scale model testing
and lab testing of building skin mock-ups can help to manage and
resolve third order failures. Additionally, implementing alternative
designs or using innovative materials, assemblies or fabrication
technologies also can help.
Fourth order failures cannot be avoided; they are related to
progressive degradation of assemblies and components over time,
caused by repeated use, exposure to elements, seasonal changes,
weather and environmental conditions. Examples include UV degradation of exterior materials and corrosion of metal components.
Changing codes and standards also can lead to fourth order failures,
requiring skins to be adapted to meet the new codes and standards.
While fourth order failures cannot be avoided, they can be mitigated by using durable, high-performance materials and assemblies.
Design redundancy, post-installation performance verification testing, proper maintenance programs and timely repairs are important
for reducing fourth order failures. Consideration of future building
codes and industry standards in the design of adaptable high performance building skins will help assure long term performance.
The four orders of building skin failures allow us to spatially
correlate multi-dimensional interfaces of building skin components
with failures. They help pinpoint relationships between failures by
identifying common characteristics and remedies.
This classification system can be used as a communication tool
during the design, value engineering and construction of building skins, by organizing relevant information in a clear, succinct,
hierarchical manner, limiting short-sighted decision making at the
expense of long-term performance.

Jeffrey Ng is an architect
and LEED AP, with more
than 35 years' experience
integrating building
design and technology.
Prior to joining Intertek-ATI, Ng was VP and
lead facade consultant at
Thornton Tomasetti.
Jennifer Keegan has
19 years' experience
as a building enclosure
consultant specializing
in assessment, design
and remediation of
building enclosures. She
has investigated failures,
provided construction
administration, condition
surveys, design peer
reviews of residential
and commercial facades,
and expert witness and
litigation services.
Matthew Ridgway is
a licensed architectural
engineer specializing in
assessment, design and
remediation of building
enclosures on historic
and modern buildings. He
has successfully managed
technical requirements
on historically sensitive
buildings and National
Historic Landmarks.

11

VOLUME 16, ISSUE 1 CONSTRUCTION-TODAY.COM

CONSTRUCTION METHODS

around failures to better predict performance
outcomes and establish design criteria and
testing protocols to mitigate risk.
Building failures can be understood and
categorized in relation to the three spatial
dimensions and the fourth dimension -
time. This approach explains relationships
in building skin failures - specifically how
failures in one material or component can
lead to failures in other materials or components - and, in turn, provides insights into
potential solutions.


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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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