Hello, we have an important announcement to share with you.
We have recently changed our name to GCI Consultants, LLC. The new name better represents our consulting and engineering services for the entire exterior building envelope.
We are still the same company, with management, address, phone number, and the services we provide unchanged. Please update your records with our new e-mail and web site addresses. Our web site is http://www.gciconsultants.com. Our email addresses remain the same using the @gciconsultants.com extension.
At Procacci Development Corporation, one of South Florida’s leading development, construction and management companies, they take hurricane protection seriously. In fact, the company has developed a reputation for constructing and retrofitting Class A commercial office buildings that are so strong, they meet the requirements of Public Shelters and enable tenants to continue business immediately following a hurricane. Another plus: Procacci is able to obtain high quality insurance with reduced deductibles – a challenge faced by many property owners throughout Florida – savings which they are able to pass onto their tenants.
The upcoming complete retrofit of the windows at the BB & T Bank Building in Doral, FL purchased by a Procacci affiliate last year is just one of many examples of Procacci’s efforts of ensuring that its buildings have a well-protected façade, critical to withstanding hurricane-force winds and flying debris. Working in tandem with GCI Consultants, LLC, Procacci will replace all windows in the existing 4 story, 35,000 square foot structure. The new windows are designed to withstand winds up to 176 miles per hour of a Category 5 hurricane and are made with large missile impact glass. GCI helped assess the building façade on the 13-year old building, developed plans and specifications, consulted on the glazing selection and conducted water infiltration tests.
Procacci’s “Built Procacci Strong” initiative meets or exceeds the rigorous standards of the Zurich insurance company’s Highly Protected Risk (HPR) program. Procacci, Zurich and GCI have collaborated on many projects, which have validated the fact that building envelope protection is good business for everyone involved.
“Tenants of our buildings sometimes have no idea about the effort and cost involved in our designing and constructing work environments that are safe and that will withstand Category 5 storms, but it’s rewarding for us to make such an important contribution,” says Philip J. Procacci, Chief Executive Officer of Procacci Development Corporation in Baca Raton, FL.
About Procacci Development Corporation
Procacci Development Corporation is a full-service development, construction and management company with extensive knowledge and experience in commercial office space. Our Company has a defined mission that concentrates on achieving a superior experience for our tenants. We are dedicated to providing real estate solutions that will have a positive impact on our clients’ operations by delivering quality results that exceed the highest industry standards.
Since 1976, we have been creating innovative projects, building quality properties and managing for long-term success. By concentrating on responsiveness, flexibility, persistence and accountability, the Procacci Team has built a solid track record of sustaining tenant satisfaction.
Hurricane season is a reminder about the importance of planning when constructing a building. Storm hardening, or building-in protection against high-wind damage, has become an increasing priority for many owners of commercial buildings, developers and project teams.
But before building in a high-risk area, a first step should include hiring a team who understands the importance of storm hardening by utilizing proper building codes and storm protection upgrades, which can save owners large expenses on the back end and increase their likelihood of having an insurable property.
Our team of building consultants has studied what works and what doesn’t in hurricane protection for the past two decades. GCI can pinpoint what needs to be done from windows, doors and wall systems to roofing and waterproofing. This is of special significance when insuring the building.
Obtaining insurance for commercial property in coastal areas is getting increasingly more difficult and expensive, but not if a building is properly protected. We’ve worked with Zurich, a leading property and casualty insurance provider globally and in North America on many projects, including the BB&T building (see story in this issue). Zurich has created a highly protected risk (HPR) wind standard, which serves as a blueprint to help customers mitigate losses due to hurricanes and windstorms. Zurich’s HPR wind standards consider the location, design, construction, and protection measures of buildings. They look at factors such as how well building “envelope” integrity can be maintained during hurricanes, the likelihood that water won’t enter the building (due to wind-driven rain, rain accumulation, flood, or storm surges) and measures that avoid potentially catastrophic foundation damage.
Some key criteria in their guide includes the use of the large-missile impact glazing for high wind coastal locations; reinforced or poured in place concrete walls to endure winds and flying debris and roofs designed to withstand uplift from high winds. Air conditioner units and other equipment on a roof must also be strapped down with steel wire cables or other building code approved securing techniques.
“If a building does not meet high performance criteria like Zurich’s, an owner may be stuck with expensive coverage from companies like Lloyds of London,” says Paul Beers, CEO and managing member of GCI Consultants. “These policies have extremely high deductibles and offer insufficient coverage. The investment to improve a building or build it right in the first place could pay off significantly in reduced insurance premiums, not to mention business interruption and repair costs if your building is hit by a severe storm.”
Whether new construction or renovation, we can help building owners and developers achieve HPR or similar types of credentials. Insurers want to meet current or exceed building codes, especially with regard to wind-loading standards. “It is a good practice to keep detailed records of improvements to receive appropriate insurance credits,” notes Beers.
“Without the proper documentation, it would be difficult to evaluate certain properties,” says Dale Seemans, senior engineering consultant at Zurich. “GCI brings value to us in many ways. They can help us do ‘forensics’ on a building to assess whether glazing and other systems will stand up to a hurricane. They literally have dismantled windows from buildings to determine the original manufacturer. They also routinely recommend glazing systems that lower energy costs and reduce noise.” GCI and Zurich have collaborated on more than 15 projects in Florida and the Caribbean.
“As a result of good planning and proper documentation, the building owner or developer may be able to obtain better insurance coverage with lower deductibles,” says Seemans. “As a benefit to tenants, an intact building envelope will allow them to get back to business immediately following a storm.”
With improved product technology, regular field-testing, and a team of experts working together, even a multi-storied, glass façade building set near the coastline in a hurricane-prone region can achieve lower insurance premiums. The how is in the planning — whether it’s new construction or a renovation.
Meet Valerie Del Toro, the new Business Development Representative at GCI Consultants, LLC. Valerie has been brought on board for her expertise in business development and marketing. Her primary focus will be branding, and she’s already brought new ideas and fresh thinking to the firm.
“In our industry, credibility and experience are everything,” Valerie says about her new position. “GCI has been around since 1988. They are an established company with a huge network of clientele with more than 5,000 projects under their belt. That’s a story worth telling.”
Valerie will be responsible for communications with clients, prospects and general inquiries. She is developing a marketing strategy with new channels such as SEO, paid search and remarketing. “These tools are under-utilized in the construction industry, and we plan to take advantage of them,” says Valerie.
Valerie believes that while social media is useful for branding, traditional advertising tools such as brochures, flyers, emails and trade shows are still widely used and valuable. However, it is equally important to reach customers through new cutting edge methods and marketing channels. She will work with a few outside marketing firms to gain exposure for GCI with other businesses, potential clients, insurance companies, architects, builders and anyone else in need of our services.
“GCI is in a niche industry that is gaining importance to our customers,” says Valerie. “Our target audience is property owners and developers, architectural firms and general contractors. It’s my job to focus on the importance of the building envelope and its integrity. You can use the best building products in the market, but if they don’t integrate together properly, that’s a problem. Working with GCI when a project is in the planning stages benefits everyone. New products, product approval requirements and building codes can change monthly. We can provide peace of mind by reviewing plans for proper use of materials and systems and then using site inspections and field tests to make sure they are installed correctly. In short, we are Risk Managers for the building envelope.”
Experience as the best teacher
Prior to joining GCI, Valerie gained valuable experience at Customer Motivators, LLC as a Senior Manager of Business Development. Before that she worked in varying capacities at BeyondROI, LLC as an eBusiness strategist, business developer and recruiter. Valerie credits Richard J. Pollack, CEO of BeyondROI, as being a great mentor and believing in her abilities. She was also an independent sales rep for Ramada Plaza Resorts, where she gained hands-on experience on the importance of customer service.
Everyone has a “claim to fame” and Valerie is no exception. As a singer her whole life, Valerie made it all the way to Hollywood Week in the sixth season on the popular television show, American Idol in 2007. Valerie was able to audition in Seattle with the help of her co-workers. As a surprise, they raised the money for Valerie to fly to Seattle and try out. She jokes how the trip was spur of the moment, having no idea where to stay; just a ticket to get there and try out.
Valerie studied marketing at the American Intercontinental University in Weston, FL and Business Administration at the University of Georgia in Athens, GA. Valerie also has a Speech & Debate Certification from Florida Forensic Institute in Davie, FL, where she was a national debate team champion on the Lincoln Douglas debate.
Valerie recalls the experiences that have shaped her into the person she is today: singing, debating, great mentors and work experience. Singing in front of her church and a panel of American Idol judges has made her comfortable in front of an audience. Debating with highly skilled peers has provided confidence in herself. Working with great business mentors has provided her with the marketing tools she’ll need to succeed in this business.
Valerie’s advice for any business: “If you want to have exponential growth, you can’t limit yourself to outbound marketing efforts. You need good marketing cross channel techniques to get people to find your business — to create inbound business.”
Valerie, welcome to the GCI family!
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
Check out Glazing Consultants International, LLC year in review. This blog had 17,000 views in 2012. Click here to see the complete report.
The exterior walls of an occupied building should, among other things, prevent excessive air and water from entering to the interior. In Florida, stucco is a common choice for exterior wall cladding, but after time, cracking can become a problem. Although control joints are typically used during construction to minimize stucco cracking and to accommodate building or thermal movement, and although construction standards apply to the use of these joints, cracks can still occur.
In most cases, stucco cracking is simply a normal part of the aging of a building during the first few years after construction since the building will experience settling and movement that commonly appears as cracks in the stucco. However, stucco cracks can compromise the weather resistance of the exterior wall, and under the right conditions are potential moisture intrusion points. Factors such as crack/void size, location, wind direction and wind speed will determine where and how rapidly the water enters into or through the stucco.
Stucco cracks should be repaired, but too often we see that an elastomeric coating is recommended because it provides the “advantage” of a crack bridging ability. While these coatings can accommodate the thermal movement, withstand wind driven rain, and provide a long term warranty, they do not bridge or repair existing cracks. The crack bridging ability applies to new cracks that may occur after the stucco has been coated.
When exterior building maintenance is undertaken after the first few years of building life, or anytime thereafter, cracks need to be repaired as part of preparation for a the new paint coating. This is a standard coating manufacturer’s requirement, and these repairs are normally included as part of the manufacturer’s warranty. By correctly identifying the cracks and implementing the proper repair before re-coating walls, it is possible to provide successful long term performance.
Stucco cracks generally include two types. These are static or dynamic (moving) cracks. Static cracks are often hairline in size and less than 1/16th inch in width, and these tend to have a crazed or spider web pattern. The reasons for this type of cracking vary, but the cracks are considered non-moving.
Dynamic cracks are normally larger and occur because of ongoing movement occurring at the crack location. The most common locations for dynamic cracks are cold joints between different substrates such as the joints between poured concrete and wall framing or CMU blocks. Other common locations include intersections of vertical walls and the corners of wall openings such as for windows and doors.
Repairing stucco cracks prior to re-coating a building requires a thorough inspection, and since different types of repairs are required for different types of cracks, the inspector needs to identify the cracks accordingly. To assure finding all the cracking, the inspections should be done in the cool of the day when the crack is at its largest. If the finish of the stucco creates a contrast, evenly fog the surface with moisture and as the surface dries, the cracks are more easily identified. The cracks should be traced with Magic Marker pens for identification and different colored pens can be used to identify the type of repair that will be necessary.
The repair of smaller and static cracks generally uses a brush-grade acrylic elastomeric patching compound over the crack which is feathered out at the edges. At larger static cracks, the crack is raked out to form a “V” shaped groove and a knife-grade acrylic elastomeric patching compound is then installed in the groove and feathered at the edges. For dynamic cracks and other cracks larger than 1/16” wide, the crack location is to be ground or saw cut to create a joint that is filled with polyurethane sealant.
Crack repair work should be completed by a qualified and experienced remedial Waterproofing Contractor. Their personnel are familiar with the crack repairs, stucco preparation and the coating systems.
Before starting the work, a sample area representing the full scope of crack repairs should be selected as a mock-up. The mock-up can be completed for acceptance and approval of by all parties before proceeding with the work. In this way, adjustments to the repair process and scope can be made before the work begins, and the mock-up serves as a basis of acceptable work for the balance of the building.
Completing crack repairs in the exterior stucco is part of the preparation for a warranted, exterior coating application. However, it should be noted that additional cracking may occur during the course of the warranty, and as a result, future leaking could occur. Therefore, maintenance inspections and crack repairs should be done regularly.
Peter R. Craig specializes in the exterior waterproofing of exterior walls, decks, and below grade areas. Born and educated in Cape Town, South Africa, he has been with Glazing Consultants since 1997. He has over 25 years experience in the waterproofing industry in both new construction and restoration waterproofing. He combines his extensive knowledge of products, techniques and his practical experience to provide answers, solutions, guidance and long term maintenance programs. His expertise includes stucco, EIFS, vertical wall coatings, expansion joints, concrete repair materials, deck membranes and sealers, and sealants.
Mr. Craig is a member of ASTM and CSI and a certified third party inspector for CETCO Waterproofing products. He has also been the featured speaker at numerous Building Managers and Condominium Association meetings and has published articles in the past for Condominium Management Magazine.
Building Commissioning is a quality-oriented process for achieving, verifying, and documenting that the performance of facilities, systems, and assemblies meet defined objectives and criteria. It begins at project inception and continues through the life of the facility. The process of commissioning, as defined by ASHRAE Guideline 0-2005 The Commissioning Process, can be applied to any system, new or existing.
In order to understand how commissioning can be applied to the building envelope, you must first understand the overall Commissioning Process. There are four commissioning phases to a project: Pre-Design, Design, Construction, and Occupancy and Operations, with each phase having specific commissioning tasks that should be completed. The commissioning authority should be on board at project pre-design in order for the owner’s project requirements to be developed and used to guide the remaining scope of work.
The major components of the commissioning process include: developing the owner’s project requirements(OPR), developing the commissioning plan(CP), creating the basis of design(BOD), reviewing plans, specifications and submittal documents, conducting pre-installation meetings and site inspections, conducting testing of systems, developing systems manuals, conducting training for staff, and finally verifying that all systems are working properly and meeting the owner’s project requirements. It should be noted that the OPR and CP should be developed in the pre-design phase and updated throughout the course of the project.
Commissioning of the building envelope is often overlooked when it comes to this process. After all, most LEED-New Construction(NC) only requires that the HVAC, lighting, domestic water and renewable energy be commissioned in order for a project to be certified. However, according to LEED-NC 2012 drafts, building envelope commissioning is now being taken into consideration. The systems listed above will still be a prerequisite, but the building enclosure must be included and reviewed in the OPR and BOD. In addition, points will be awarded as an option under the enhanced commissioning credit if full envelope commissioning is addressed in accordance with ASHRAE Guideline 0-2005, and NIBS Guideline 3-2006, Exterior Enclosure Technical Requirements for the Commissioning Process.
Although LEED Existing Buildings(EB) does not require building commissioning for a project to be certified, points are awarded if the lighting, process loads, HVAC & R, domestic water heating and renewable energy are commissioned. There is no specific mention of building envelope commissioning, however the process can still be applied.
Evaluate the current performance of the building envelope by reviewing
prior design and submittal documents, and conducting investigative
site visits. Perform testing on the building envelope which may
include scanning the envelope with a thermal imager and performing
water and air infiltration testing. Then, evaluate the results and
determine if the envelope is performing up to the standards and owners
requirements. If it is not, implement solutions by developing
improvement plans. Finally, verify that improvement goals have been
achieved by using the methods previously mentioned.
NIBS Guideline 3-2006 should be used in conjunction with ASHRAE Guideline 0-2005. The NIBS guideline focuses on applying the commissioning processes described above to the building envelope. It addresses performance objectives for the exterior enclosure including the control of heat flow, air flow, noise, fire, light, infrared, ultraviolet, rain penetration, moisture, structural performance, durability, security, reliability, aesthetics, value, constructability, maintainability, and sustainability, however commissioning objective requirements will vary tremendously by type of owner, type and size of building and project objectives.
In summary, the commissioning process is an excellent tool in ensuring that a project is meeting the owner’s requirements and buildings are performing up to energy standards and codes. Although envelope commissioning may be new to some, it is important to include in your commissioning plan. “The building envelope plays a crucial role in the performance of any building. A failed building envelope will not only create persistent operational problems from leaks and drafts, other building systems cannot perform as intended. ” (Commissioning the Windows: Design Phase Strategies for High Performance Buildings)
Top 10 reasons you should include the building envelope in your commissioning plan
- Financial Savings – Energy costs will be reduced by ensuring that the envelope is sealed properly and commissioned systems are coordinated. “Operating costs of commissioned buildings are reported at 8-20% lower than those of a comparable non-commissioned building.” (General Service Administration, Building Commissioning)
- Achieve LEED Points and Certification – Meet LEED certification needs by adding envelope commissioning prerequisites and recommendations.
- Assure the Owner’s Project Requirements are met – Checklists are developed at project inception to track and coordinate progress, making the commissioning process as seamless as possible. This ensures all of the owners requirements are accounted for and followed throughout the life of the project.
- Assure there are proper design documents – There can be design errors related to weather barriers, air barriers, vapor barriers, glazing assemblies, and roofs. Design and specification documents should be reviewed throughout the project.
- Prevent water and air intrusion, mold, mildew, and poor indoor air quality – If there is a moisture problem, it will be from the building envelope. Envelope assemblies should be field tested and verified to ensure proper installation.
- Installation quality control – All components of the envelope systems should be properly documented and regular site visits should be conducted to ensure proper installation.
- Integrate facility systems and coordination among disciplines – In order for the HVAC system to work properly, the envelope must also be performing up to its requirements. Coordination among building systems is crucial in order for the Commissioning Plan Objectives to be achieved.
- Proper training of building staff – Verifying that building operators are familiar with the building envelope is important to long-term performance. They should be trained as to the maintenance requirements of the envelope systems and have the ability to identify components that may not be performing to requirements.
- Enhanced Environmental Credentials – Building envelope commissioning is a valuable selling point and will be above the rest in a competitive marketplace.
- Occupant/Tenant Comfort – A building with properly functioning envelope and HVAC systems provides occupants with a comfortable and healthy work environment in all weather conditions. This is the building owner’s ultimate goal – a building full of satisfied tenants.
Shauna Sproul has a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering with 3 years of building envelope experience with Glazing Consultants. Shauna has provided forensic investigations, analysis and report compilation as it relates to hurricane damage. Ms. Sproul also holds a Certified Building Commissioning Professional title from the Association of Energy Engineers as well as a LEED Green Associate certificate from the United States Green Building Council. Shauna can be reached at email@example.com