In recent years, a growing demand for high-performance building envelope solutions has been evidenced by the increased attention paid to this topic throughout the building design and construction industry.
Building Envelope Council (BEC) initiative
Seeing this emerging priority, in 2004 the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) Building Enclosure Technology and Environmental Council (BETEC) and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) signed an agreement to establish the Building Envelope Council (BEC) initiative. The initial goal of the initiative was to have local AIA components establish at least nine BECs by May of 2007. Since then, the program has founded 26 BEC Chapters, representing both cities and states. Today, more than 3,000 affiliated architects, engineers, contractors, manufacturers and others with an interest in building enclosures participate in BECs around the country. The Councils promote the exchange of information and facilitate discussion on topics pertaining to building enclosures and related science.
As a resource toward this effort, the NIBS, under guidance from the past Federal Envelope Advisory Committee, developed a comprehensive guide for building envelope design and construction for office and institutional building types. The Building Envelope Design Guide (BEDG) is continuously improved and updated by the BECs and can be accessed (for free) through the online Whole Building Design Guide (WBDG), a program of the NIBS.
ASHRAE Guideline 0 and NIBS Guideline 3
A development in the work of the BETEC is the creation of NIBS Guideline 3 Building Enclosure Commissioning Process BECx. The guideline, available for free through the WBDG, is intended to be used in concert with ASHRAE Guideline 0.
ASHRAE Guideline 0: The Commissioning Process describes the quality-oriented “Commissioning Process” (CxP) capable of achieving, evaluating, and documenting that a facility and its systems meet the Owner’s Project Requirements (OPR). The procedures, methods, and requirements in Guideline 0 outline each phase of the project delivery and the associated commissioning processes from pre-design through occupancy and operation.
While ASHARE Guideline 0 outlines the commissioning process, NIBS Guideline 3 provides specific information related to commissioning the building enclosure. It is essential that a project’s commissioning authority (CxA) understand and comprehend the basic process provided in Guideline 0 as well as the specific BECx requirements of NIBS Guideline 3. The latter recognizes that, just like other critical elements of a building, an independent review of the commissioning process is an impartial way to see that the design and construction of facades, fenestrations, roofing, and other envelope components are all carried out and tested appropriately to perform as intended.