What is a building enclosure?
Before we dive into the concept of building enclosure commissioning, let’s first dig into building enclosures. What are they and what parts make up a complete enclosure? A building enclosure is made up of a building’s roof, walls, windows, doors and base floor system. This includes all materials, components, systems and assemblies whose function is to separate the interior of the building from the exterior. The building enclosure is meant to be airtight, waterproof, energy efficient and, sometimes, address safety issues like firestopping.
What is building enclosure commissioning (BECx)?
Building enclosure commissioning, which is often shortened to BECx, is a process that evaluates the quality of a building enclosure to confirm it meets the owner’s project requirements. This process starts during the planning phase of a new structure. BECx consultants will assist in this phase with the planning and project documentation, design reviews, submittal review and even helping the contractor on board. During the construction phase, BECx consultants will go out to project sites and perform site observations. When they’re out on project sites, they’re looking for discrepancies, deficiencies and things that are not correct.
Once the construction process is complete, BECx consultants inspect the structure and perform tests to confirm the systems were installed correctly and are functioning as designed. The tests they perform can include roof testing, electronic leak detection, infrared thermal imaging and water testing on the roof or windows.
What does BECx look like in practice?
Let’s take a hypothetical scenario: as a BECx consultant, Braun Intertec will come in and have a preconstruction meeting with the lead roofer on a project and explain to them what we are looking for during our inspections and the tests we will run to confirm the quality of their work. Now, let’s say that roofer goes out and subcontracts their work to a roofing crew but doesn’t transmit any of the information the roofer agreed to with the BECx consultant.
If the subcontracted roofing crew delivers poor work on the roof, ultimately, we as consultants come back to inspect and must point out the poor work. These are tough conversations to have, especially when it means telling a roofer to pull up brand new work because it doesn’t meet the standards agreed to at the outset of the project. However, somebody must be the person who says the work is not accepted and needs to be fixed.
BECx saves work and expense in the long run
At first glance, some contractors might not see the inherent value BECx consultants bring to their projects, but it’s important to take a long-term view with our work. By bringing in a qualified BECx consultant you’re helping the contractor provide a product they can warrant and feel confident they won’t have to return to and correct later down the road. BECx consultants can save a tremendous amount of work and expense in the long run.
Interested in learning how to leverage building enclosure commissioning for your structure?
Sign up for our webinar with Andre Lehr as he explores building enclosure commissioning and what architects, contractors and project managers should keep in mind as they plan, construct and maintain high performance structures by clicking the button below.