Building Performance
Simulating High-Performance Building Enclosure
Joe Fong

The building enclosure is an integral part of ensuring building performance, through means such as air and water resistive barriers, waterproofing, thermal insulation, and vapor retarders. Enclosure design and construction must be taken into consideration throughout the design stages. As engineers and designers, we focus on applying advanced building performance simulation tools to enhance the integrated design approach, increase the quality of occupant comfort, and provide greater advantages to the owner for building operation values. Additionally, the modeling software often connects other disciplines, such as architectural, structural, electrical, and mechanical, enabling a comprehensive approach to sustainable structures.

Performance simulation modeling tools are employed throughout design, construction, and even post-occupancy. During the early design stages, these modeling tools are used for decisions that enhance economy, utility, durability, and comfort. Applications in the later phases include third party assessments to ensure that performance values are maintained according to design intent, and annual enclosure check-ups to enhance building health, functionality, budget, and occupant safety and comfort.

While building performance simulation software (e.g., daylighting, energy, condensation, thermal bridging, etc.) is not yet common practice within the building industry, it is quickly growing in popularity and will likely become universal technology in the next 3-5 years. As design professionals, however, we must remember the fundamental principles of building science to deliver integrated solutions. It will become increasingly important over the next few years that we educate industry-wide to increase the use of these advanced technologies that help bridge the gap between simulation and analysis.

Joe is a Senior Associate and Building Envelope Consultant with Walter P Moore’s Diagnostics group in Houston, Texas.