Commissioning of the Exterior Building Envelope Using Infrared Thermography

Mario Goncalves
Principal and Global Business Leader - Building Science
Underwriters Laboratories, Montreal

Infrared thermography is used extensively in the building construction industry as a quality control and forensic tool to assess air leakage performance and the presence of moisture in exterior wall assemblies. Infrared thermography applied to large buildings however requires a good building science background and understanding of the dynamic forces which act on the building envelope. This presentation focuses on diagnosing building envelope anomalies in large buildings using infrared thermography and other diagnostic tools.

The application of infrared thermography to assess building envelope anomalies in large buildings is presented in this presentation through several practical case study examples. All the case study examples are from buildings located in the north-eastern Canada region. Given the harsh winter conditions and significant temperature variations throughout the year, air leakage and moisture ingress within exterior wall assemblies is a common source of building envelope failures in large buildings. Canadian building codes and construction methods have consequently evolved considerably over the past several years in order to address these issues.

Building science principles are discussed in this presentation in order to highlight the basic fundamental principals pertinent to using infrared thermography as a diagnostic tool to assess building envelope anomalies in large buildings. The use of other diagnostic tools, in conjunction with infrared thermography, such as high power blower doors specifically designed for large buildings and portable high output smoke generators, are also discussed.

The primary objective of this presentation is to provide an increased level of knowledge to the building community for an improved awareness of the benefits and limitations of using infrared thermography and other diagnostic tools applied to large buildings.