Indoor Air Quality Has A New Champion

Improving the indoor air quality of buildings is a large part of the sustainability movement and as we continue to address energy efficiency through air tightness in assemblies, the issue of indoor air quality will continue to be a focal point.

People spend about 90 percent of their time indoors so the quality of the air around them, where they live, work and play is very important.  Educational and health care environments draw even greater scrutiny due to the sensitivities of the young and those with potential respiratory issues.Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), formaldehyde and other aldehydes, are seen as common compromises to air quality.  VOCs are all around us, come from many sources, and often move freely in and out of building components. People, themselves, carry VOCs into buildings through the wearing of permanent-press clothing and exposure to secondhand smoke.

Fortunately, there is a first-of-its-kind wallboard, called AirRenew™.  AirRenew is designed to clean the air and remove a particular family of VOCs by drawing them into the board, trapping them, and utilizing a patented technology to break down these VOCs into inert compounds. Those inert compounds will stay in the gypsum board for the service life of the board.  These inert compounds created inside the core are not harmful and the original VOCs will never be released back into the air. 

This revolutionary gypsum board, which will be available soon, will have a positive impact on public buildings, especially when qualifying for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED ™) or other green rating program certifications.  Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) strategies incorporating AirRenew meet the intent of the sustainability Triple Bottom Line of economic prosperity, social responsibility and environmental stewardship.

AirRenew has undergone a battery of independent testing. Preliminary tests show that AirRenew maintains its performance when painted with a permeable paint. Finishing that results in an impermeable surface, such as vinyl wallcoverings, would reduce the porosity of the board surface and are not recommended. Permeable paints currently serve over 70 percent of the interior wall coatings market. Since most sustainable and LEED models are moving away from solvent based coatings, this is not perceived as a limitation.

LEED for Schools Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) Credit 3.2 sets a maximum concentration of 27 parts per billion for formaldehyde, however many studies have shown that this is often exceeded. The mold resistance performance of AirRenew also contributes to LEED for Schools IEQ Credit 10 for mold prevention. The GREENGUARD® Environmental Institute has many resources documenting the issues of indoor air quality and the need for reducing VOCs especially in schools.

It has been exciting to work on a product that provides a real solution to an issue that has long needed a champion product. 

Building Information Modeling (BIM) the Next Frontier

Douglas C. Gehring

We all want and need to work smarter and quicker.  A fast-growing trend for building design professionals is the incorporation of Building Information Modeling or BIM objects as a design tool. Similar to today’s film directors moving from 2D to 3D movies, BIM objects are the next generation of drawings and allow building and design pros to easily visualize projects, improve design quality, reduce change orders and improve project scheduling,

BIM enables a project to be shown in a three dimensional model and includes all the additional properties that go along with it – information data sheets, websites for the products in the model and specification documents. It becomes a one-stop-shop for all the resources you need for the design. For architects, BIM is a productivity enhancement tool.

The use of CAD giving you a two-dimensional view could not, for example, show if there was a wall inadvertently intersecting with an HVAC duct. The three dimensional BIM model shows details such as this which saves designers from costly errors. The BIM drawings get sucked into this building information model for the whole project and can automatically generate plan elevations, sections, and other details so when the designer wants to change one element, it changes it within the whole model.

BIM is a growing industry and from its positive reception by the design community is not going away.  There is still standardization that needs to be done with the tool but it is quickly becoming an accepted part of the design process. Architects and general contractors are the largest forces out there pushing for BIM.  Manufacturers will most likely need to provide these models more and more once professionals see the value of BIM.

BIM also includes building performance software, sustainability modules and other efficiency modules evolving frequently to meet the needs of sustainability initiatives in the building community.  BIM objects are available through Reed Construction Data’s proprietary SmartBIM Library™ as well as many product manufacturers’ websites.

Two states, Wisconsin and Texas, have adopted BIM as the design tool of choice for all state projects. When states begin to adopt these tools you know that growth for the tool is imminent.

Now if we could only get James Cameron to create a few Avatar BIM Objects.

Douglas C. Gehring, P.E., CSI is director, marketing technical services for CertainTeed Gypsum