Meaningful Measurements of Building Performance

It’s a confusing environment for responsible building owners who want to create sustainable buildings. Architects claim their efficient design skills will save an owner 20% in energy costs over a comparable non-efficient design. Product representatives tout their white roofing material as a cooler option than a competitor’s black roof. Third party inspectors offer verification of a manufacturer’s environmental statements, with little hard scientific support. How do we cut through conflicting claims and confirm that our built environment – building products, assemblies, buildings, or neighborhoods and cities – actually performs the way we expect it to? Are we merely creating an image of energy efficiency and sustainability without solid reality to back up our promises? How do we meaningfully measure the performance of our built environment?

The Greater St. Louis Chapter of the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI), in conjunction with the Alberti Group, offers an all day seminar “Meaningful Measurement of Building Performance” on Friday, November 3, at the newly renovated Engineering Center (formerly the Engineer’s Club) at 4369 Lindell. The seminar brings together researchers and professors who have done substantive science in building performance. Each presents a different aspect of the built environment, ranging from the micro level of heat and moisture mechanics in wall assemblies to the macro level of public policy and urban demographics.

Manfred Kehrer, Dipl.-Ing., Senior Associate at Wiss Janney Elster (WJE), was group manager responsible for developing WUFI software and is Official WUFI Collaboration Partner for USA/Canada. His work includes seminal studies into thermal and moisture movement through building envelope assemblies, and he will be discussing “Hygrothermal Engineering in the 21st Century: Motivation, Basics, Examples.”

James E. Woods, Jr., Ph.D., PE, is a Fellow and Distinguished Member of the American Society of Heating Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), and retired William E. Jamerson Professor of Building Construction at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He will be presenting his recent work “Evaluating Indoor Environmental Performance in Eldercare and Other Occupied Facilities.”

Experimental physicist and Oberlin College professor John H. Scofield, Ph.D. asks and answers the question, “Do Green Buildings Really Save Energy?” The co-author of 47 peer-reviewed research papers, Dr. Scofield has recently completed detailed studies of energy consumption performance of green buildings. He describes himself as having “…the heart of an engineer and the head of a physicist.”

An urban policy analyst, Wendell Cox, MBA, Principal at Demographia (Wendell Cox Consultancy), specializes in housing affordability, transportation, and demographics. Author of the annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey, he spent nine years as Visiting Professor at the Conservatoire National des Arts and Metiers, Paris. His topic is “Does Stopping Sprawl Improve Urban Performance?”

Our Chapter’s partner for this seminar, Alberti Group, is an interdisciplinary consultancy that brings together highly qualified professionals with expertise in risk management, law, architecture, construction, and forensic assessment. “We’re pleased to bring this intensive seminar to St. Louis,” said Ujjval Vyas, J.D., Ph.D., Alberti’s Principal. “Construction professionals often misunderstand the methodology behind serious scientific work. Marketing, not science, frequently drives performance predictions. We hope our presentations increase rigor, objectivity, and comprehension among our participants.”

Seminar tickets for the full day event, including continental breakfast and interactive lunch hour, are $100 for CSI chapter members and $125 for all others, but discounted early bird pricing is available until October 20. CSI members may reserve and pay $75 before that date, members of affiliated organizations (e.g., AIA, USGBC, AGC, ASPE) $90, and all others $100. Early registrants will be offered lunch seating at a table with one of the seminar speakers. These special seating opportunities are limited so make your reservations today and improve your understanding of the science behind building performance.

George A. Everding, FCSI, CCS, CCCA, AIA, is retired after a 40-year career as an architect, specifier, and construction administrator. He freely admits he could learn more about science and buildings.


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