The Scientific Approach To Solving Leaks

How to fix leaks in buildings

Mysterious Leaks are a common building deficiency across the world. Cracks form in concrete, wood, masonry and glass—creating a path for water to travel when it rains. The problem that most resident realize after they patch their leaks a few times is that leaks must be traced to find the path of least resistance and fix it. This is where the guessing game begins.

A typical engineer will assess the building visually—using their vast past experience and the client’s information, they produce a hypothesis as to where the leak is running across the building. They might even use sound tapping to find the hollow areas in the structure, but all of this is guessing work. Cracks can be tiny, almost invisible inside the walls, and certainly invisible to the naked eye inspecting the property. These investigations are the old way of doing things and unfortunately, they are inaccurate and prone to human error—causing thousands of dollars in repairs without any guarantee that the leak will be fixed!

RAS Engineering, PA is an engineering company that has taken it upon themselves to correct the market and eliminate these opinion-based inspections. RAS uses a roster of testing equipment that cannot be found among other engineering companies. These devices allow RAS to scan walls, roofs and floors to find: map the source of the leaks, track where they travel and assess how much damage it has done to the structure so far. These tests are non-destructive and performed before any construction is done. Follow-up testing during or after restoration is also available and recommended.

Finding invisible leaks can only be done with scientific equipment. Most labs will require clients to send out core samples and field surveys to their remote testing location. Once again, RAS does things differently by offering a mobile testing van that arrives at your front door! The RAS mobile testing van comes with all the equipment that will be needed and the crew will conduct all the tests needed until they are certain they have found the source of the problem! Flat fee and guaranteed results!

Some of our testing methods are:

  • Infrared Thermal Scanning
  • Relative Moisture Scanning
  • Water Deluge Testing
  • Dew Point Testing
  • Differential Pressure In Walls
  • Sealant Joint Testing
  • Deck Finishing Sound Testing
  • Water Penetration

If your building is facing issues with leaks or any other invisible deficiencies, give us a call to set up a free consultation on your property! You will receive a complimentary report on the areas that require testing and a proposal for our mobile testing van. Once we finish testing, we can discuss restoration methods and offer a competitive price to fix it ourselves!

Humidity And Health A Bad Mix

Health And Humidity A Bad Mix

A review of the health effects of relative humidity in indoor environments suggests that relative humidity can affect the incidence of respiratory infections and allergies. Experimental studies on airborne-transmitted infectious bacteria and viruses have shown that the survival or infectivity of these organisms is minimized by exposure to relative humidity between 40 and 70%. The conclusion of the study was that people working in lower humidity were prone to less risk of respiratory infections.

Many people don’t realize that humidity causes so many health concerns. If they were aware, they would take preventative measures to control the humidity that creeps into their buildings. Things like the window sealing, sliding glass doors, balconies, planters on the structure and leaks in the building can cause a system of humidity within the premises. This is under the category of green construction, although most people believe that green means energy savings, it also means building efficiency.

Among other negative effects of high humidity in your building, it is known to produce: mold, mildew, asthma in tenants, fatigue and heat strokes. There are also many other effects due to the interrelationship with humidity interacting with indoor pollution.

The health of the tenants inside the building is locked to the indoor pollution and the humidity levels. Many new and innovative solutions have been developed to combat this issue. The market has been slow to react to this news on their health, but changes have begun. Indoor air quality tests and codes have started to become implemented across the country.

If you are interested in being ahead of the trend and want to find an innovative solution for your building’s indoor air quality, reach out to us! We would love to evaluate your building for green building solutions!

Link to continue reading about this topic elsewhere:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1474709/

About us:

Raul Schwerdt is an inventor of Green Building Solutions.

RAS Engineering is dedicated to increasing building performance with cutting-edge solutions. If you would like to extend the conversation and find out how you can improve the efficiency of your property, visit us at: www.rasengineers.com

How Clean Is Your Air? Have You Checked?

indoor-air-quality

Indoor air pollution is “an area that’s relatively unexplored compared to other fields in public health,” says Dr. Joseph Allen, director of the Healthy Buildings Program at Harvard’s Center for Health and the Global Environment. Despite the fact that indoor air is sometimes more polluted than outdoor air, “we haven’t dedicated comparable resources to it,” Allen says.

Healthy indoor air is critical for human health and there are virtually no measures to rectify this problem. Air sensors in rooms are extremely rare and air regulation technology is rarer still. New devices are appearing on the market to combat this lack of health consciousness in hotels and office buildings since many illnesses can be attributed exclusively to indoor air pollution.

Globally, more than four million people die prematurely as a result of indoor air pollution, according to the World Health Organization. Though those statistics primarily represent mortality rates in developing countries, indoor air quality is still a major issue in countries like the United States. Data that focus specifically on the effects of indoor air pollution in highly developed countries suggest that it can lead to certain types of cancer, liver and kidney disease, and emphysema, though there’s some uncertainty about how much exposure is required to lead to those kinds of health problems. And exposure to indoor pollutants are particularly toxic to children, the elderly, and those with preexisting conditions.

Retrofitting a building for clean indoor air and moisture regulation has been proven to increase tenant productivity and happiness. The trend of going green continues across the world and many are realizing that cleaning the pollution in a building is one of the key goals of achieving success with the daily operations. This also increases the property value as well as lowering the energy costs due to the improved insulation.

There are many benefits of improving the indoor air of your building, making your operations smoother and happier. Contact RAS Engineering for a building evaluation to find out if your property could benefit from healthy indoor air retrofit!

Link to continue reading about this topic elsewhere: https://www.theatlantic.com/sponsored/dyson/think-before-you-breathe/1311/?&utm_source=IM_ATL_O_1311_1?utm_source=AtlanticOnline_PGGX4F&utm_medium=display&utm_content=&utm_campaign=us_en_heetingandcooling_hot%20and%20cool_needs_display_fy17-q2

About us:

Raul Schwerdt is an inventor of Green Building Solutions.

RAS Engineering is dedicated to increasing building performance with cutting-edge solutions. If you would like to extend the conversation and find out how you can improve the efficiency of your property, visit us at: www.rasengineers.com

Green Roofs Spreading Across the Country

Green Roof

Green roofs — also known as ‘vegetated roofs’ or ‘living roofs’ — are ballasted roofs consisting of a waterproofing membrane, growing medium (soil) and vegetation (plants) overlying a traditional roof.

GSA certified green roofs have existed since 1935, but with over 80 years of improvements, today’s green roofs offered even greater benefits than before. The Office of Federal High Performance Green Buildings compiled over 200 research studies and condensed the benefits to a few important bullet points:

• Stormwater Management: Green roofs prevent polluted storm water from running across the neighborhood by absorbing up to 65% of it.
• Energy: Green roofs reduce building energy use by cooling roofs and providing shading, thermal mass and insulation.
• Biodiversity and Habitat: Green roofs provide new urban habitat for plants and animals, like birds and insects, thereby increasing biodiversity.
• Urban Heat Islands: Urban neighborhoods build up heat in the concrete and asphalt, leading to increased energy use. Green roofs can reduce this effect.
• Roof Longevity: Green roofs last twice as long as conventional roofs.
• Aesthetics: Green roofs can add beauty and value to buildings.

Regarding cost, installing a green roof can be calculated a number of ways and when taking into account the ROI, a green roof can cost you nothing at all!

• GSA’s green roof report estimated that green roofs on commercial and public buildings provide a payback, based on 50 year average annual savings, of about 6.2 years nationally, internal rate of return of 5.2%, and an ROI of 224%, based on a net present value of $2.7/square foot.
• Primary green roof costs are related to installation and maintenance.
• Primary economic benefits of installing green roofs are lower energy costs, less frequent roof replacement due to greater durability, reduced stormwater management costs, and creation of job opportunities.
Converting to a green building requires attention to detail. The structure will need to be inspected during construction to prevent possible leaks and future cracks. This can only be done by quality. If you’re interested in a green project for your property, contact us at www.RAS.green for innovative, cost-saving solutions for greener buildings!

Link to continue reading about this topic elsewhere:
https://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/166443

About us:

Raul Schwerdt is an inventor of Green Building Solutions.

RAS Engineering is dedicated to increasing building performance with cutting-edge solutions. If you would like to extend the conversation and find out how you can improve the efficiency of your property, visit us at: www.rasengineers.com

Condensation The Economics

Condensation is commonly thought of as a harmless byproduct of moisture between differing temperatures. However, code writers such as ASHRAE are taking the opportunity to require modern condensate collection for new construction and major renovation projects.

This is very valuable for building owners and tenants because some states create so much condensation on the property that it can help with the operations of the building. Using the condensate for the A/C system, washing machines and generators on the property. Most cities in the east coast are especially susceptible to condensation, having an average annual amount between 3-7 gallons cfm, according to an ASHRAE study:

The Economics of Condensation

The study was so successful in finding great potential in sub-tropical Florida (Orlando and Miami) that it has since spawned many subsequent studies on the financial impact of reusing the condensation throughout building processes. Calculations for structures across the biggest U.S. cities in the country were done to find the simple payback to give building owners a clear indication whether a condensation collection system is right for them:

The Economics of Condensation Payback

For more information on ASHRAE and on the new changes that are coming to condensation codes, you can visit their website at:

https://www.ashrae.org/resources–publications/periodicals/ashrae-journal/features/ahu-condensate-collection-economics–a-study-of-47-u-s–cities

About us:

Raul Schwerdt is an inventor of Green Building Solutions.

RAS Engineering is dedicated to increasing building performance with cutting-edge solutions. If you would like to extend the conversation and find out how you can improve the efficiency of your property, visit us at: www.rasengineers.com

 

How Comfortability Increases Employee Productivity

Comfort is usually defined as opinion-based, what is right for some is not right for others. However, when it comes to the comfort of the human body, the science has determined that we all need to maintain healthy surroundings in order to be as efficient as possible. A recent study conducted by BOMA revealed that more than half of all the office building tenants in America are “uncomfortable”.

Currently, the driving force behind addressing indoor air quality problems is viewed by the building owner as a “cost of discomfort”.

The energy cost for operating an office building is approximately $1 to $2/ft2/yr. The energy cost for an office worker with a $30,000 a year salary who occupies 150 ft2 is between 0.5% and 1% of the employee cost. Even if the energy expenses were doubled it would be cost effective if it could provide just a 1% improvement in productivity. Reducing outdoor air rates to save energy can raise indoor contaminant levels, thereby increasing employee discomfort and lowering worker productivity.

Furthermore, with building costs totaling approximately $20/ft2/yr, the previously mentioned office worker’s space costs $3000 per year. Therefore, a 1% improvement in this worker’s productivity would justify a 10% investment in improving the ventilation system and hence the indoor air quality.

The bottom line is that a properly designed, functioning and maintained ventilation system will provide employees with an acceptable thermal and indoor air environment. In turn, absenteeism will be reduced, and morale, well-being and productivity will be increased.

Multiple government and private studies have shown that improvements in productivity, ranging from 3% – 20%, can be expected due to improvements in a worker’s indoor environment. (National Contractors Study, LBNL-1997).

The evidence is clear: not only is the comfort of the tenants important for their happiness, it is also crucial for their energy levels. Maintaining higher levels of energy for the staff is key to drive productivity levels up to the next level!

Link to continue reading about this topic elsewhere:

http://www.automatedbuildings.com/news/apr03/articles/ebtron/ebtron.htm

About us:

Raul Schwerdt is an inventor of Green Building Solutions.

RAS Engineering is dedicated to increasing building performance with cutting-edge solutions. If you would like to extend the conversation and find out how you can improve the efficiency of your property, visit us at: www.rasengineers.com

The Dynamics of Breathable Paints

Image result for breathable paint

Breathable paints are difficult to identify because the term is thrown around loosely, but a paint that is truly breathable will allow moisture to pass through it. You may be asking: “Why would I want my paint to allow water penetration?” The answer is deceptive.

Breathable paint should have an SD Value (or “Vapor Diffusion Thickness”) ranging from 0.01 to 0.5. This results in moisture having to travel 1cm to 50cm to pass through the paint, meaning it has very little resistance and can pass freely without being slowed or stopped. Conventional masonry paints will likely have an SD Value of 1 or above–this results in moisture having to travel through the equivalent of 1 meter of air to escape.

The vast majority of paints can technically be classified as “breathable”, as they will eventually allow some moisture to escape. However, it is the rate of transfer or the distance which constitutes a truly breathable paint.

Older buildings are fairly simple in construction–they are usually comprised of thick, solid walls with no cavity. The result of this construction method means that moisture will always be present within the building fabric. The original material (Lime Mortar made from Lime Putty) used to create these buildings were relatively simple as well–they were softer than the host material (i.e. Stone) and they allowed moisture to escape and not remain trapped inside.

One of the main reasons for this failure is that a building can undergo significant movement, both structurally and thermally. Once a crack appears, water can penetrate inside the wall, behind the non-breathable or waterproof coating, into the concrete and rebar. A secondary issue with cracking is during the winter or colder months, as water freezes it has an expansion rate of roughly 9% per freeze. As this cycle is repeated when we reach certain temperatures, the cracks are able to increase and widen in size, which allows further water to ingress without a means of escape.

The concerning implications of using a paint that is not breathable can be very costly. If the contractor leaves any cracks during restoration and seals it all in with bad paint can mean trapping moisture inside to create even worse deterioration down the line. Make sure your building is specified properly the next time you need a paint job.

 

Link to continue reading about Breathable Paints:

http://cornishlime.co.uk/information/breathable-paints-explained/

About us:

Raul Schwerdt is an inventor of Green Building Solutions.

RAS Engineering is dedicated to increasing building performance with cutting-edge solutions. If you would like to extend the conversation and find out how you can improve the efficiency of your property, visit us at: www.rasengineers.com

What Sustainability Means to You and Your Building

Sustainability has been a buzzword since the 90’s but only in the past decade has sustainability truly become a priority in building and infrastructure design. It’s no secret that building construction and operation have an enormous direct and indirect impact on the environment in terms of energy use, atmospheric emissions, use of raw materials, waste generation, water use, and many other factors. Nowhere in the building is the design more crucial to attain sustainability than it is in the envelope. The building envelope is comprised of the outer elements of a building—foundations, walls, roof, windows, doors and floors.

What Sustainability Means to You and Your Building

The envelope keeps the outside environment separate from the inside of the building. This is important because temperature, humidity and pollutants can enter inside if the structure is not properly insulated. If the building is not properly sealed and air levels are not monitored, the building will not be operating at peak efficiency and the tenants inside can be negatively affected by the poor indoor air quality. Sustainability is a system that has greater implications than simply how much you save on the energy bill.

While the definition of what constitutes sustainable building design, construction and operation is constantly evolving, here are some of the objectives that are generally accepted:

Optimize Site Potential: Building a structure in a very hot or very cold environment will affect the entire design of the envelope. Understanding your surroundings beforehand is key!

Optimize Energy Use: Thermal insulation is the number one cause of wasted energy in a building! Many people are shocked to hear that. Optimizing the insulation should prevent most of the energy wasted on the property.

Protect and Conserve Water: Water is not only for drinking or irrigating plants—it’s also used for operating the A/C compressors, the laundromats, cleaning services and more! Having an effective water conservation system is needed to achieve sustainability.

Use Greener Materials: A well designed building should not only save on construction costs but also boast long material life. Poor materials can fall apart sooner than expected and even negatively affect the health of people and wildlife in the vicinity.

Enhance Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ): The indoor air of a building affects whether the tenants feels healthy and the staff is productive. Poor quality of air can lead to slow workers and dissatisfied customers.

Optimize Operational and Maintenance Practices: If the staff is not onboard with the sustainability plan, then they will not make sure it succeeds. Having easy maintenance procedures coupled with willing staff members who can operate them is the only way to ensure long, sustainable success for you building!

Sustainability is not a gimmick, it is a way of life that improves the health of the people, the building itself and the environment around it. Educating yourself about the needs of your property and the innovative solutions in the marketplace can elevate your building to a greener, stronger and healthier future!

Linkhttp://www.wbdg.org/resources/sustainability-building-envelope

Happy Earth Day

Happy Earth Day

Each year, Earth Day—April 22—marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.

The height of counterculture in the United States, 1970 brought the death of Jimi Hendrix, the last Beatles album, and Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” War raged in Vietnam and students nationwide overwhelmingly opposed it.

At the time, Americans were slurping leaded gas through massive V8 sedans. Industry belched out smoke and sludge with little fear of legal consequences or bad press. Air pollution was commonly accepted as the smell of prosperity. “Environment” was a word that appeared more often in spelling bees than on the evening news.

Although mainstream America largely remained oblivious to environmental concerns, the stage had been set for change by the publication of Rachel Carson’s New York Times bestseller Silent Spring in 1962. The book represented a watershed moment, selling more than 500,000 copies in 24 countries, and beginning to raise public awareness and concern for living organisms, the environment and links between pollution and public health.

Earth Day 1970 gave voice to that emerging consciousness, channeling the energy of the anti-war protest movement and putting environmental concerns on the front page.

Read the full story at http://www.earthday.org/about/the-history-of-earth-day/

The Road to Net-Zero Buildings through ASHARAE 90.1

The Road to Net-Zero Buildings through ASHARAE 90.1

ASHRAE 90.1, the leading standard in the energy efficiency of buildings, has undergone some changes recently to address Net-zero buildings and expand the energy code in general. For years, the real estate market defined Net-Zero buildings in loose terms—stating that any design with the purpose of achieving zero kW per month can be considered Net-Zero. This has confounded building owners because when they receive the light bill after an unusually hot month, they find that their building isn’t always Net-Zero, only during ideal conditions.

ASHRAE intends to solve this issue by updating its standards, not only to be more stringent on energy use, but to also include client input in the decision making. Owner’s Design Specifications are becoming more and more crucial when planning a project. When the contractors finish installation of their new energy efficient solutions, the maintenance staff charged with operating the new design are sometimes ill-equipped to maintain it. This alienation of the building’s day-to-day operators has caused many energy saving systems to fall short of expectations and leads to litigation. Involving the building owners in the use of the product becomes almost more crucial than the design itself.

Besides focusing on owner input, the new standard also addresses motion and occupancy sensors for rooms not in use. This technology has shown great value over the past few years, so much so that they are now a requirement. ASHRAE has more plans for sensors, though, as they continue tweaking the ideal measurements to attain maximum efficiency.

While the new edition of 90.1 is making great strides in standardizing the energy savings market with motion sensors and owner influence, they are planning on expanding it sooner rather than later. These are the topics on the table:

-Continued focus on sensors and occupancy
-Air barrier testing
-Increased emphasis on commissioning
-Address major professional barriers in the design process
-Increase requirements relating to heat recovery/reuse
-Overall savings 40-45% compared to 2004 levels
-Respect the client building’s operation and operators.

Link: https://www.ashrae.org/standards-research–technology/standards–guidelines

RAS Engineering is dedicated to increasing building performance with cutting-edge solutions. If you would like to extend the conversation and find out how you can improve the efficiency of your property, visit us at: www.rasengineers.com