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By James Piper, P.E.
Windows & Exterior Walls Article Use Policy
Regular inspections can reveal the condition of the building envelope. By tracking these inspections over time, managers can identify trends in component condition and performance. As the number of problems with a particular component increases, managers can begin the process of looking for a replacement product. Even with the best maintenance, time, use, and exposure will take their tolls on envelope components. Eventually, some components will reach the point at which it is not economical to continue to maintain them. Replacement becomes the most appropriate option.
This situation opens a range of options for managers. It gives them the opportunity to select replacement materials that offer lower maintenance requirements, improved aesthetics, increased energy efficiency, or all of the above. For the replacements to work, managers must carefully consider the options available to them. They must closely examine and compare materials and envelope systems. For energy efficiency, that often means modeling the performance of the building envelope and analyzing the energy impact of various options to see which offers the fastest return on investment.
Managers might have to make trade-offs when selecting options for a particular building. But by evaluating different building-envelope options and scheduling their replacement, managers can have it all — improved energy efficiency, reduced maintenance costs, and more effective building protection, while remaining cost competitive.
James Piper, P.E., is a national consultant based in Bowie, Md., with more than 25 years of experience in facility maintenance and engineering management.
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