What is Building Science?

Wonderwoman Construction is dedicated to following the practice of building science. The quick description is that we think about how every aspect of your remodel will effect every aspect of your home. Adding a bath fan can seem like a simple project but will have major ramifications if not done in way that considers how the change in airflow will effect the rest of hte house.

If you are still reading and want to see what Wikipedia says about building science, here you go:

Building science is the collection of scientific knowledge and experience that focuses on the analysis and control of the physical phenomena affecting buildings and architecture. It traditionally includes areas such as building materials, building envelope, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, natural and electrical lighting, acoustic, indoor air quality, passive strategies, fire protection, and renewable energies in buildings. The practical purpose of building science is to provide predictive capability to optimize the building performance of new and existing buildings, understand or prevent building failures, and guide the design of new techniques and technologies.

Building science is the architecture-engineering-construction technology discipline that concerns itself with the 'mainly detail-design' of buildings in response to naturally occurring physical phenomenon such as:

  • the weather (sun, wind, rain, temperature, humidity), and related issues:e.g. freeze/thaw cycles, dew point/frost point, snow load & drift prediction, lightning patterns etc.

  • subterranean conditions including (potential for seismic or other soil + ground-water activity, frost penetration etc.).

under the constraints of

  • characteristics of materials,(e.g.response to UV, freeze-thaw, rot, mold, Galvanic corrosion between dissimilar metals, and properties such as permeability of materials to water and water vapor, swelling, shrinkage, compatibility, etc.).

  • physics, chemistry and biology such as capillary-action, absorption, condensation ("will condensation occur at a good or bad place within the wall?"), gravity, thermal migration/transfer (conductivity, radiation and convection), vapor pressure dynamics, chemical reactions (incl. combustion process), adhesion/cohesion, friction, ductility, elasticity, and also the physiology of fungus/mold.

  • human physiology (comfort, sensory reaction e.g.radiance perception, sweat function, chemical sensitivity etc.).

  • energy consumption, environmental control-ability, building maintenance considerations, longevity/sustainability, and occupant (physical) comfort/health.

The building science of a project refers to strategies implemented in the general and specific arrangement of building materials and component-assemblies.

The practical outcome of building science knowledge is reflected in the design of the architectural details of the building enclosure (see building envelope), and ultimately in the long-term performance of the building's 'skin'. The scope can be, and is, much wider than this on most projects; after all, engineering is applied science mixed with experience and judgement. When architects talk of "building science", they usually mean the 'science' issues that traditional engineering disciplines traditionally avoided, albeit there are emerging disciplines of 'building scientists', 'envelope consultants', and 'building engineers'.