In a recent podcast called Everything Building Envelope www.everythingbuildingenvelope.com by host Paul Beers, Peter Craig Senior Consultant for GCI Consultants, LLC talked waterproofing in places like Florida where moisture is a constant feature.
He also talked about building envelopes and how they create a shell separating the moist outside world from the building’s interior. This component is essential, going beyond even waterproofing as it can affect the structures energy consumption, internal climate, and ventilation.
- Structural Support
A building’s roof, walls, foundation, windows, and doors are part of the building envelope, and function as a structural support.
- Moisture management
Outside elements like humidity and moisture are kept out by the building envelope preventing significant damage. This feature is essential for all homes, warehouses, and commercial properties etc. as insulation and building paper control moisture in the building envelope.
- Air flow control
The building envelope controls internal air pressure, prevents air leaks, air quality, and temperature. Natural ventilation, utilizing energy efficient windows, sealants and insulation are all parts of designing a building envelope.
High rise Foundations and Building Envelopes
According to Peter Craig at GCI Consultants the foundation is essential in high-rise building envelopes “because that’s where a lot of your load bearing and structural support goes, and rather than simply having a dead space, they utilize that space for parking garages, basements, storage areas etc.”
Making sure the building’s foundation and the building envelope is robust and sealed initially is critical. Interestingly, in coastal environments with a high-water table, this means de-watering the foundation hole and managing the water flow once the building is constructed.
Windows, Walls, Architecture, and Waterproofing
The core of a building’s design comes from the architect’s vision, and that concept can create challenges for waterproofing a building. Also, the scheduling and sequencing of the work may result in waterproofing tasks being completed by others who may not specialize in waterproofing which can create new issues.
When it comes to hiring sub-contractors to handle things like the windows, insulation, and electrical work GCI expert Peter Craig says “We look at the specifications to determine that the types of qualifications that the installer brings to the table are useful.”
At GCI this is often a part of a continuous process involving complete inspections where every part of the building envelope’s construction requires “full-time inspections if it’s a very sensitive installation” including every door window and wall.
Roofs and Waterproofing
The construction of the roof is an integral part of the building envelope and where many important aspects of waterproofing take place. As the contact point for rain, roofs must be properly sealed and regularly inspected to ensure their integrity.
One standard method used in waterproofing is a liquid roof coat where materials such as a rubber-like elastomeric waterproof membrane keep water out of the building’s interior.
This material is used with other traditional roof materials like asphalt, bitumen, felt, or concrete, and they compose one of the most complex components of a structure’s building envelope, especially when factoring in insulation and interior ceiling materials, both of which affect ventilation.
Of course in certain exotic structures that Peter referenced in the podcast how the role of the roof is reimagined and the function and form of the roof and consequently the building envelope have to change for the sake of waterproofing.
One example Peter mentions are condominiums where “the roof is being converted into utilized space, whether that’s a small penthouse deck with a dipping or plunge pool that’s available for, that particular unit owner.”
Under these circumstances, things like the placement of insulation in the ceiling and the material being used have to be checked and modified to make sure the building envelope passes GCI’s inspection.