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Building science as a competitive sport

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Who says building science can’t be a competitive sport? Shepley Bulfinch, which has set the standard for building enclosure design for more than a decade, came out on top in the Air Barrier Challenge organized by the Boston Society of Architects’ (BSA) Building Enclosure Council to design and test a window installation in a wall.

Shepley Bulfinch fielded one of nine teams from architecture firms, consultants, and manufacturers’ representatives in last month’s competition. The goal was for each team to design and install a successful window-to-wall interface, perhaps the most common but also among the most challenging details in creating a high-performance building. The Shepley team constructed one of only two (of nine) panels to pass the testing for both air and water infiltration.

The panels were built at the Architectural Testing Inc facility in Chelmsford, Massachusetts on May 15 and tested the following weekend. The panel designed by Shepley was the first one tested for air infiltration, and was so tight that at first the testers weren’t sure their equipment was working properly. In the water test, the panel was subjected to 8 inches of water per hour under the equivalent of a 60 mph wind. Again, the window-to-wall design was so tight that no water passed through.

Led by Jonathan Baron, Team Shepley included Sara Elsa-Beech, Claude Greenberg, Shaun Landon, and Peter Terrat, joined by Scott Walker of Tremco Building Products.


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