By Paul E. Beers
I recently tried a Google search for the term “Wet Seal” and found it is a clothing chain for teenage girls that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January. I did not find any information about what I was looking for, which is a concept for sealing glazing systems in an attempt to halt water intrusion. I then searched several major sealant manufacturers’ websites and again came up empty. I found this to be very curious in that “Wet Seal” is a term I think most in the glazing and construction industry are very familiar with. Finally, I found the term defined by the Glass Association of North America (GANA) as Application of an elastomeric sealant between the glass and sash to form a weather-tight seal.
Wet sealing is a remedial process. It is not a part of new glazing system designs and should not be confused with “wet glazing,” which is when manufactured systems use sealants or tapes as part of their glazing detail. Wet seals are applied remedially when a conventional drainage system has internal leakage that is difficult to access or expensive to repair. In my experience with due diligence and investigations of water leakage in buildings, there are many buildings, particularly older ones, which have had some form of wet seals applied.
There are some important considerations when applying a wet seal. First and foremost is that a wet seal usually changes the design concept of a system from collecting and draining water to a barrier system where all water is repelled at the exterior plane. Once a wet seal is applied, if any water does enter the system, it is trapped inside with no provisions for drainage back to the exterior. Regular inspections and maintenance are very important to identify and repair any avenues for water entry. Water entry from surrounding areas, such as stucco, sealants, expansion joints, or even a roof leak above will also cause water to be trapped inside a wet sealed glazing system.
When applying a wet seal, it is critical to fully seal every possible avenue for water entry. This includes glass to metal, metal to metal and perimeter sealant joints. Each seal must be done properly and must tie in with each other. The finished system should basically be one continuous seal across the entire system. Since glazing systems experience very high temperatures in direct sunlight, silicone is the only material that should be used. Manufacturers’ recommended details for the type of silicone, joint design, profile and installation must be carefully followed.
The wet seal solutions we have designed include cutting back existing gaskets and applying silicone at glass to metal joints and using preformed silicone seals for metal to metal applications. We always involve sealant manufacturers to review and approve our details as being in accordance with their published recommendations. Manufacturers can also provide recommendations about needed accessories, surface preparation, proper adhesion and compatibility with abutting materials. Some manufacturers will provide up to a 20 year labor and materials warranty when following their strict guidelines.
For wet seals to work properly they must be designed and installed to be 100 percent perfect. If there are any deficiencies, water enters the system and becomes trapped, which can cause long term degradation of systems. Therefore, it is critical to proof the concept in the field and have a high degree of quality control during installation. We recommend that an in-place mockup of the repair be installed at project startup to include all typical conditions. The mockup up should be inspected and approved and then tested using ASTM E1105 Standard Test Method for Field Determination of Water Penetration of Installed Exterior Windows, Skylights, Doors, and Curtain Walls, by Uniform or Cyclic Static Air Pressure Difference. After successful testing of the in-place mockup, installation should be carefully monitored by a third party and the sealant manufacturer must remain fully involved.
I consider a wet seal application to be a last resort after other considerations to repair and restore a system to the original design concept are deemed impractical or too expensive. Wet seals only are as good as their design and workmanship and last only as long as the materials continue to perform. While wet seals can be an effective and long lasting solution, they are basically a “band-aid” to correct problems that cannot be solved conventionally. Wet seals are often considered the easy, cost effective solution, but it really is “buyer beware” and all of the pros and cons should be carefully evaluated.
New Acquisition Positions GCI for Industry Leadership
Merger with IAQCP brings together top building protection experts
West Palm Beach, Fla – January 29, 2014 – Building envelope specialists GCI Consultants, LLC announces its merger with one of the country’s top indoor air consulting firms, Indoor Air Quality Consulting Partners (IAQCP). The new acquisition positions GCI as a leader in the building construction industry, as the company will now offer in-house services for protecting both the exterior and interior of new and renovated residential or commercial buildings.
Unlike its industry competitors, who typically employ a general inspector to assess damage, make recommendations and take preventative measures, the collaboration between GCI and IAQCP now provides clients with world class experts in exterior glazing, wall, roofing, cladding and waterproofing systems as well as indoor air quality control. “We have a specialist for each building segment, and our people are well trained to collaborate,” says Paul Beers, one of the managing partners at GCI Consultants.
“The merger of GCI and IAQ Consulting Partners elevates GCI into a class of its own,” continues Beers. “As far as we know, we are the only company who offers an entire slate of qualified experts who can evaluate a building from roof to foundation and everything in between. If buildings are properly protected from the outside, now we are prepared to help owners assess and correct problems on the inside, when water or other elements are creating problems.”
Equipped to find the root cause of “sick” buildings, the new indoor air quality team will specialize in hospital indoor air quality, hotel indoor air quality, office building indoor air quality, and commercial indoor air quality. Led by industry veterans Hall Brodie, PE, and Nate Sanders, CIH, LEED AP, IAQCP is known for its expertise in forensic investigations to discover the sources of moisture, mold, chemical substances and other items that can wreak havoc on a building’s interior.
Geography also played a key factor in the merger. IAQCP is located in Atlanta. As GCI expands its presence in the Southeastern states, an Atlanta office will help facilitate growth. GCI currently has offices in West Palm Beach, Miami, Orlando and Jacksonville. For Brodie and Sanders, Florida’s moist climate creates a logical market for helping owners protect indoor air quality.
GCI and IAQCP recently partnered to work on 12th and Laurel, a large luxury residential project in Nashville. The successful collaboration was impetus for the acquisition.
“We couldn’t be more perfectly poised for growth, and feel like 2014 will be a significant milestone for all involved,” says Beers.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org