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The REAL Reason We Need Building Science

Facebook Little Girl Dancing With Art

I LOVE this photo! It has nothing to do with building science. Or does it? As we humans have progressed from living in caves to mud huts to stone buildings to the stick-built structures many of us in the US inhabit now, our lives have changed.

I LOVE this photo! It has nothing to do with building science. Or does it? As we humans have progressed from living in caves to mud huts to stone buildings to the stick-built structures many of us in the US inhabit now, our lives have changed.

The way we raise children has changed even more dramatically. We allow them to be children and explore the world and express themselves in their own ways. Much of that exploration and expression happens in buildings.

Both adults and children need building science so that our buildings will allow for this growth. We need building science so our great works of art can last for centuries. We need building science so we can dance in front of that art work, comfortably and healthily.

Buildings are so much more than just a structure to protect us from the elements and store our stuff. When designed and built well, they help us to grow in all the ways we can. They help us connect with other people.

Since we spend so much of our lives in buildings, shouldn’t we really try to bring building science up to the same level as architecture and design? We want buildings not only to look beautiful but to perform beautifully.

The joy that that little girl feels as she dances in front of the painting of the dancer is something we can probably all connect with. Let’s make all buildings places where we can live our lives fully, the highs and the lows.


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Photo credit: I saw this on Facebook and have no idea whom to credit. If you know, please let me know.


This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Hi Allison, 
    Hi Allison, 
    I would argue that we do not allow our children to be children as much as we did, although the little girl in the picture is doing a wonderful job!

  2. Excellent relief. As much as
    Excellent relief. As much as I am a building science geek, I appreciate being reminded why we do it in the first place. The built environment is for humans – particularly the younger, innocent ones!

  3. Ah! You have touched a
    Ah! You have touched a subject near and dear to my heart; the condition of buildings we put our children into. 
    One of my favorite recent projects was doing energy (and general building quality) assessments for child care centers around our state. While all of these centers served a subsidized tuition population most had children from a wide socioeconomic range. 
    I think I saw about 18 facilities, only one was purpose built. Most are “hand-me-down” buildings ranging from old schools to churches to homes to some combination of the above. 
    The commonality was poor energy performance, but also most of these buildings had poor ventilation, moisture problems, ancient and terrible (sometimes frightening) mechanical systems, and a whole list of other problems. This is where we put our children? 
    Given the budget realities and the political climate I don’t expect any major changes anytime soon. But If you’re a building science professional could you spare a few hours for a local childcare center to advise them and help them avoid making major mistakes when they by equipment or remodel? Maybe help them draw up a basic plan going forward so when they reach a critical point (heating system failure) they have at least a sense of what they need to do.  
    As a reward you will get to spend some time among children who will be fighting for your attention and spreading joy. If your idea of a good time does not include being surrounded by children asking “Whatcha doin’ mister?” this might not be for you. But for me it was some of the best time I have spent on a job. 
    If a few of us around the country step up and pick a local facility that we could help think of the number of children we could help. I’m doing it and will continue. How about you. Please. 
    Allison, thanks for putting up with this. It’s a topic that I care deeply about.

  4. The photo and this post hits
    The photo and this post hits home with me, because I work in an art museum, managing the environmental systems and building infrastructure. Building science, along with mechanical system design, is highly important for museums, and sometimes overlooked when decisions are made in museum design. The need to maintain a steady environment for the collection should drive decisions on how the building shell itself is designed and built. Do it right, and the steady temperature and humidity levels are not difficult or overly costly to maintain. Do it wrong, and there’s condensation in the walls in winter and overwhelmed a/c coils in summer trying to maintain humidity and temperature targets. To serve as just a few examples. 
    My boss often reminds me that what we do is important because we’re preserving history, just like the institution in the photo is, so that cute girl and many others can dance in front of that painting for years to come.

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