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.
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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
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Glazing Consultants International, LLC, employs specialist consultants for each building envelope subcategory. Our glazing, exterior wall systems, waterproofing and roof experts provide a specialized expertise that is second to none.
The old cliché that you have to spend money to make money is often times true when it comes to maintaining your roof’s envelope condition. In today’s uncertain economic climate, companies across the country are not just looking to make money, they are also tightening their belts, and looking for ways to save. Even during these challenging times, it is important to remember that one has to spend money to also save it, especially with regard to a building’s roof.
Roof issues are the least visible part of the building envelope, hence, out of sight out of mind. What you don’t see can ultimately hurt or damage building integrity. The key here is proactive involvement by either in-house maintenance, or a property management company, coupled with a qualified and experienced roof consultant in determining the roof’s current condition. This activity is known as a “Roof Condition Survey,” to protect the building envelope starting from the top down.
Condition surveys should be scheduled or conducted semi-annually as a rule of thumb as there is no such thing as a maintenance-free roof system. All roofs have a limited lifespan and sooner or later they need repair, restoration, or complete replacement. Even if a roofing consultant was not involved in the building’s construction, developing a preventative maintenance plan can further extend the roof’s life. It can also save money by proactively correcting problems before they become minor leaks which could as a result cause major leaking or water intrusion leading to subsequent structural damage.
The results of a roof asset management program with semiannual surveys can optimize roof performance, save the building owner money, and allow for replacement or repairs. It’s better to proactively work with a roofing consultant and not wait to react during a crisis. Remember the process of aging starts the moment the roof system is installed. If you are fortunate enough to observe a new roof installation you will see it in pristine condition representing how it should stay providing a maintenance program is put in place.
MONITOR YOUR ROOF
As a roofing consultant, I tell my clients to never get too comfortable and have a false sense of security about the roof. When issues go unnoticed it compounds the effects resulting in more costly repairs.
Here’s some sound advice and a few items to consider:
- Hire a qualified roof consultant to perform a condition survey. This will make sure you are staying on top of failing conditions, installation problems, severe weather damage, and general aging.
- Conduct semiannual inspections in the spring and the fall prepare you for the summer heat and any adverse winter conditions that may occur.
- Verify warranty conditions. If the roof is currently under warranty, any repair issues that exist must be repaired by a manufacturer approved applicator. If repairs are done by anyone other than an approved roof contractor the warranty will be deemed void.
- Walk the roof and perform a visual inspection and take these four action steps:
>> Look closely at the exterior conditions of the membrane system and all of its flashings, membrane and metal. Notice any premature deterioration.
>> Check for unsecure penetration flashings and caulking terminations for general wear and tear. Look for areas appearing darker in the field or perimeter membrane and especially in or around drains and scuppers. This can indicate the presence of “ponding” water.
>> Check the general conditions around any roof top equipment such as HVAC units, roof jacks, or screen-wall units. Repairs due to leaking or failed units by mechanical, electrical, or plumbing (MEP) contractors may have inadvertently caused damage to or around the existing flashing. Screws, nails, or metal shavings can cause damage resulting in leaks.
>> Perform general cleanup. Remove any debris from the roof especially around drains, overflow drains, and scupper areas. Check for unknown spills of any kind that may prematurely deteriorate membrane or metal.
Ultimately, the goal of ongoing maintenance is to protect the interest of the building owners, extend the roof’s life, and prevent costly leaks and damage. Many building owners and businesses are understandably looking for ways to cut costs. Involving a roofing consultant in the process as both a precursor and with an in-place maintenance programs can end up saving the company more than it spends and keep you on top of your roof maintenance.
Samuel Chiodo, RRO, is a specialist in the field of Roof Technologies and Science. He has over 25 years of experience in the roofing industry specializing in; Modified Bitumen, Built-Up-Roofing, Single Ply Membranes, Cold/Hot Fluid Applied Systems, Metal, Clay/Concrete Tile, Asphalt Shingles, as well as Spray Applied Polyurethane Foam and Coating Systems. Mr. Chiodo is well versed in the principles of roof flashing, insulation and design problems. He is focused on providing water tight roof systems and envelope integrity for Building Owners, Developers and Property Managers.
Sam Chiodo is a member of RCI (Roof Consultants Institute). He has been published in several roof construction and building maintenance magazines. Mr. Chiodo an active participant with GCI’s continuing professional education and research program, as well as the development of information relating to the design and construction of roofing, glass and glazing, waterproofing and building envelope systems.
You may reach Mr. Chiodo here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Glazing Consultants International, LLC, was retained to provide building envelope consulting services for Peabody Orlando’s $450 million dollar expansion, which includes over 200,000 square-feet of meeting space, a 31-story tower with 750 new guest rooms and a new parking garage for 2,100 cars.
“This was an exciting project because GCI was able to work on the entire exterior utilizing our glazing, waterproofing and roofing specialists. This is a prominent landmark in Orlando, and we are proud to have been a part of its growth.”
-Paul Beers, CEO, Managing Member
Services: GCI provided these services on behalf of the owner and worked with the construction team on the exterior glass curtain wall and windows, exterior walls, waterproofing features and roofs. The assignment spanned several years. GCI first worked on an initial survey to help determine how to integrate the existing structure with the new expansion and then worked with the Owner and Architect during design. Finally, GCI worked with the construction team to provide quality-control services, including review of drawings and submittals, site observations and field water infiltration tests.
Founded in 1988, GCI is a consulting firm that specializes in the exterior building envelope. The GCI team includes experts in windows and doors, wall systems, roofing and waterproofing. All consultants are highly-trained specialists who work closely with clients to protect their interests and help provide cost-effective results. Our services include design assistance, investigation of building envelope problems, development of repair solutions, field water infiltration testing, quality control services, codes and standards consulting and expert witness and litigation assistance.
2460 Metrocentre Boulevard
West Palm Beach, Florida 33407