The Art of Mastering Building Science

    By Kelvin Liu, Normac Depreciation Report Coordinator

    The Master of Applied Science in Building Science degree at BCIT is a comprehensive and challenging program that provides its students with a broad spectrum of knowledge about the physics behind buildings. It is also the only program of its kind in Western Canada. I am currently in the final stages of the two-year program which includes a full year of Master level classes and another full year of applied thesis research in an advanced Building Science topic. Some subjects in these classes include:  Fundamentals of Building Science, Building Enclosure, Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), Materials Science, and Building Energy Simulation.

    The Fundamentals of Building Science is a two part course that teaches the students the physics of how a building functions and operates in addition to how the building interacts with the environment. For instance, we were taught how to calculate the direct Sun path relative to a building’s geographic location, which then affects the magnitude of solar heat gain. The psychometric chart is an important part of the course as well because indoor and outdoor temperatures in relation to relative humidity can determine the level of moisture build-up within building assemblies.

    There are also two parts to the Building Enclosure course which give the students a chance to apply their knowledge of Building Science gained from the fundamental course in a practical sense. The students are introduced to the different types of enclosure assemblies such as walls, roofs and windows. The instructors, who are respected industry experts, taught us the function of each sub-component. Moreover, we were taught how to analyze the enclosure as to avoid potential deterioration within the assemblies and how to spot them on site if deterioration does occur.

    IAQ is an important subject which is often overlooked when buildings are designed. The students are introduced to numerous types of potentially hazardous toxins, chemicals, and organic compounds. We were then instructed how to design the ventilation system within an entire building such that these hazardous airborne compounds are properly exhausted from the building.

    An industry expert in building materials introduced to us a large variety of resources such as the different types of wood, metal, minerals, in addition to engineered materials such as polyurethane. More importantly, we were instructed on how to analyze the performance and characteristics of the materials in order to specify appropriate building materials based on the required function and their environment.

    The Building Energy Simulation course was the most significant course to me because my research thesis required the use of building energy simulation to find optimal building designs. Now, students are exposed to different industry standard software that can analyze buildings in terms of energy consumption and environmental impact. We were informed on the current status of building code relating to energy simulation and how it will affect the future of the building design and construction industry.

    I am currently in the home stretch of pursuing my Master of Applied Science in Building Science degree and I am proud to be a part of a select group of engineers and researchers pushing the limit of building design. It is my hope that as this program continues to grow and more people are becoming exposed to a more scientific way to analyze and design buildings, we can save the industry billions of dollars in repairs as well as reducing energy consumption and saving the environment along the way.

    For more information on Normac’s Building Science services click here

    Useful Links:

    BCIT Master of Applied Science
    What are Building Condition Assessments?

    Image used with permission.  © Jose Enrique Veloccia

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