Creating Durable Structures Using Building Science

codes evolve and concerns of environmental and economic impacts of energy use become more critical, marketing building materials requires some understanding of building science.

Simply defined, the field of building science is the analysis of natural phenomena and how it affects buildings. It involves understanding how moisture, air, temperature, and design assemblies impact the expectations of a building’s performance. How do we keep a building dry or control a certain amount of energy use? How do we make a home long lasting with good indoor air quality? How will a hot and humid climate affect the wall assembly? Science. Not everyone’s favorite subject.

As someone who markets building materials, particularly those that exist as part of the wall assembly, it’s important to express the value of the products we support in terms that are easy for the public to understand, especially if more expensive products have a greater value to a builder or future homeowner. Being able to explain building science is necessary for highlighting that value. Better products are not just better on their own, they are better at contributing to and working with a system of materials.

The messaging is not necessarily the difficult part, it’s getting the message to stick to change someone’s perspective. The old sales adage ‘in the absence of knowledge people buy on price’ seems to make sense to most people. We all know it’s hard to pass up what appears to be a bargain or less expensive if we perceive it may simplify a process. So, when the lowest bid by a contractor tends to be met with some skepticism shouldn’t building materials require some thought and research?

These general questions are a good starting point to ask about a building system or product–does the system create a durable structure, or add to energy efficiency, occupant comfort, and aesthetics? If the answer is ‘yes’ then it’s time to simplify the messaging while conveying the value of the products and any customer service or support that is available. It seems simple, right? Passing up something that will last a long time, that saves on energy bills, that’s not harmful to health, provides comfort, and looks great…everyone wants that, right?

And that’s why building science is important to marketing building materials. Well-designed products and systems mean fewer problems over time but if those products cost a bit more than the competition then messaging that offers solutions for wall assemblies to be long-lasting, energy-efficient, that can manage the challenges of bulk water, air, thermal bridging, and vapor drive requires a bit of science to back it.

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