FourGreatWalls is a building consulting company that specializes in indoor air quality, building condition assessments, building science, and reserve fund studies.
Indoor Air Quality
A. The first stage of an indoor air quality (IAQ) investigation is to review the building’s history and gather information about building occupants’ health symptoms, recent renovations, flooding events, or any changes in building use.
B. Next is the visual inspection to look for clues that might explain the problem.
C. Testing contaminants in the indoor environment may include airborne particulates, noxious gases, radon, volatile organic compounds and fungi (mould). Other parameters such as temperature, relative humidity, and carbon dioxide may also be tested to provide an assessment of the ventilation equipment.
D. Once measurements of indoor air parameters are obtained and the laboratory reports their findings, FourGreatWalls will compile the data and interpret the results. FourGreatWalls will address any deficiencies by recommending actions that will bring about solutions. A scope of work may be generated. A health risk assessment may be formulated.
E. FourGreatWalls will generate a detailed report based on the building assessment.
HOW TO DETERMINE IF HEALTH SYMPTOMS ARE BUILDING-RELATED
+ Symptoms occur at a particular time
+ Symptoms seem to be associated with the building
+ Symptoms improve upon leaving the building
+ Symptoms coincide with an event or activity in the building
+ Symptoms are shared by other people
+ Medical opinion suggests building related cause
An indoor air quality investigation requires skills from several disciplines including: building science, building mechanical systems, architectural technology, mycology (the study of fungi), organic chemistry, toxicology, indoor pollutant testing protocols, and environmental management.
An infrared camera is used to help identify hidden areas of moisture, heat loss, and air leakage.
INDOOR AIR QUALITY MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
FourGreatWalls is a pioneer and leader in providing indoor air quality risk management solutions to clients. An indoor air quality management system (IAQMS) provides the opportunity to make plans ahead of time to reduce the likelihood that indoor air quality becomes an issue. It involves commitment at the top, making appropriate resources available, assigning responsibilities, policy, communication, education, documentation, and a means of assessing the system to continually make improvements.
The term “fungi” is the biological classification of organisms that include mould, yeasts, and mushrooms. Fungi colonize dead organic material, which includes building materials such as wood, gypsum board and fabrics. Fungi cause health effects including allergy, pathogenic infection and toxic illness. There are many variables to consider in making a health risk assessment for fungi:
+ The nature of the fungal material (allergenic, infectious, or toxic)
+ The amount of exposure (concentration of spores in the air and length of time people are exposed)
+ The susceptibility of exposed persons
Building Condition Assessments
Building condition assessments are examinations of the exterior of the building in order to identify design and construction flaws that may impact the integrity of the building envelope. Of most concern are visible signs of water damage and excessive air leakage.
A. A review of supplied documents
B. An examination of the building for reported and potential problems
C. Thermographic scans and other testing to identify hidden water, air leakage or thermal bridging problems
D. An analysis of the identified problem areas with regard to impact or potential impact on the integrity of the building envelope
E. A report summarizing our findings, analysis and solutions
RESERVE FUND STUDIES
Building condition assessments are typically conducted prior to or in conjunction with undertaking a reserve fund study.
Building Science is a collection of scientific knowledge that is used to optimize a building’s design, manage its life cycle and use, and restore its function under external and internal conditions.
BUILDING SCIENCE PRINCIPLES
Building science principles are based on the physical processes of heat, air and water movement.
+ Heat moves from hot to cold
+ Hot air rises
+ Heat transfer mechanisms (conduction, convection, radiation)
+ Two different air pressures or vapour pressures try to equalizes
+ Capillary action
By applying these and other building science principles, performance parameters for various building envelope designs can be predicted and building envelope failures can be corrected.
A BUILDING IS A SYSTEM
Building Science acknowledges that a building is a system, which includes the building enclosure (building envelope), the occupants and their activities, mechanical systems, and the external environment. A change in any one of these components affects the others.
BUILDING SCIENCE AND INDOOR AIR QUALITY
Knowledge about building science is essential for conducting indoor air quality building investigations and developing sound mitigative strategies. For instance, building science can help determine the source of moisture in a building. It can also explain the pathways pollutants take as they move through a building.
The practical application of building science principles may lead to design decisions about rainwater control and the proper use of drainage planes and flashings. It may also provide guidance on how best to install air barriers, vapour retarders, moisture barriers, ventilation, and insulation. The intended outcomes from applying building science principles include:
+ Health and safety (fire, structural, indoor air quality, codes and standards)
+ Control of heat, air, moisture, and solar radiation (climate dependent)
+ Durability and sustainability (building material life cycle, airtightness, energy efficiency)
+ Occupant comfort (thermal comfort, ventilation)
Reserve Fund Studies
The purpose of a reserve fund study is to ensure there is enough money set aside separate from regular maintenance expenses to cover major repairs and/or replacement of building components owned by a condominium corporation over the lifetime of the property.
Reserve fund studies are required by the Alberta Condominium Property Act to be updated every five years.
A reserve fund study has two parts: a building component analysis and a financial analysis.
+ An inventory of all commonly owned building components which are subject to a physical or functional deterioration within the next 25 years
+ An analysis of the present condition of all the commonly owned components
+ An estimation of the effective age and remaining life of each component
+ An estimation of the cost of repair, replacement, or restoration of each component
+ A determination of the amount of funds currently accumulated by the condominium corporation for the purpose of repairing, replacing or restoring the components identified in the study
+ Recommendations for the appropriate amount of funds required to meet the future financial obligations of the condominium corporation
WHAT WE DO
FourGreatWalls conducts a building condition assessment prior to the reserve fund study. This will identify any building components that might require replacement before its predicted life span.
FourGreatWalls has developed a spreadsheet to assist with the calculation of capital replacement items.