Warmer, Wetter, and Windier: Future Proofing Your Building Enclosure for Extreme Weather

Monday, May 1, 8:30 am – 9:30 am

It’s getting wilder for building enclosures. Climate change is causing warming temperatures with climate zone boundaries moving north, longer periods of more intense rain between droughts, and increased high wind occurrences sometimes reaching tornadic or hurricane forces. Such changes will challenge the performance of building enclosures and will require altered design strategies to reliably perform. Furthermore, extended utility outages which accompany the extreme events will place even more demands on performance of buildings during the most catastrophic of situations.

This presentation will begin with an overview of climate forecasting and adapting the project requirements to the future criteria. Building on that information we will:

– Explore how enclosures will need enhancements to control moisture against more rain for longer periods under higher wind pressures.
– Study the impacts of increased moisture loads on material moisture storage capacity, wetting drying cycles and enclosure performance.
– Analyze the reversing of historic vapor drives on wall assemblies as climate zones shift northward and review enhancements to common wall assemblies.
– Study the challenges for roof systems to retain water, both to slow run-off and store water for “gray” uses and investigate possible upgrades.
– Investigate how marginally performing existing buildings may fail in the future when they reach a “tipping point” and can no longer control the higher moisture loads and review suggestions for improvements to the enclosure.

Finally, we will study the interrelationship of energy efficiency, air quality, durability and resilient design to maintain passive survivability during catastrophic events.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Identify changing climatic conditions that influence building enclosure design and performance.
  2. Identify how some enclosure design strategies that have performed adequately in the past may no longer be acceptable due to climate change and review enhancements to accommodate the new conditions.
  3. Investigate the impact of climate change on the performance of existing building enclosures and how some previously acceptable buildings will “tip over” into problem structures.
  4. Understand the interrelationship of enclosure design for weather extremes with resilient design for passive performance and sustainability.
Level of content:

David Altenhofen, AIA

RWDI, Philadelphia, PA

David W. Altenhofen, AIA is the Senior Technical Director for the Building Enclosure Practice of RWDI, a world-wide consultancy focusing on scientifically improving how buildings perform in their exact environment.   David applies his 40 years of experience providing technical advice and quality assurance to a team of consultants bettering the building enclosure for a wide variety of projects.  David has been involved in leadership roles in building enclosure performance for more than 20 years as a principle in large architecture and consulting firms.  In practice he applies his expertise in building science, materials, delivery methods, documentation, quality assurance, testing and building enclosure commissioning.

David is active in the industry and served on many local and national committees including on BETEC, as the National Chair of the Building Enclosure Council and a board member of ABAA.  David worked on the NIBS committee to publish Guideline 3 for Building Enclosure Commissioning, authoring the chapter on Design Phase. He is currently involved with RAINA and the AIA on improving definitions for building enclosure terms to improve industry communication and on the 2024 update Commercial IECC Envelope Subcommittee.   He presents frequently, including at ABAA conferences, NIBS conferences, multiple national AIA conventions, local BECs, universities and as a part of the RWDI educational symposiums. He has been widely published, most notably being on the editorial board for the 11th edition of Architectural Graphic Standards plus editing the Shell chapter.