Extreme Testing of Building Materials

PROSOCO's test facility tests building materials based on real-world conditions, far beyond industry standards. In a recent test, we subjected a wall assembly to over 220 mph of wind pressure. 

In this video, we talked to several experts about the current state of testing in the building envelope industry. See their comments in the video and transcribed below.

Laverne Dalgleish - Air Barrier Association of America
I know we have buildings that are performing and buildings that are not performing. So within the association (Air Barrier Association of America), I take that back to how do we make buildings work better by having better materials. The only way you know whether the material works or not is to do the testing and the tests that we run right now are way below what they're going to see in many cases in the field.

Tom Schneider - Building Envelope Innovations
ASTM E331 is a test method that tries to determine the effectiveness of a wall assembly to resist water under differential pressures.

ASTM E 331 tests a wall assembly to 137 Pascals of pressure, or about a 33 mph wind.

Shawn Desrosier - Build SMART
Some folks are going to go, oh, it's a 30 mile an hour wind. And some people will take a step back and go, okay, but what else? Oh, there is nothing else. We passed an industry standard, we got our stamp of approval. Okay, some will go, might want to go up a little higher. We do that in a contained box.

 

PROSOCO test chambers can test at pressures over 200 mph.

 Shawn Desrosier - Build SMART
The machine itself in its simplest form builds pressure. The concept is derived from (ASTM) E1105 which is a field test: hang spray rack off a building, put water on it and then draw negative pressure from the inside of the building.

In the window test that we provided for a client a couple of weeks ago. The goal was to find out where the glass itself would break, basically.

Laverne Dalgleish
Watching the test to give us pressure against the window. It was really interesting for me because I saw physically how the window reacted, how the glass bowed, how the frame started to twist and of course the big interest is when everything blew up and we had glass all over the place.

Tom Schneider
We took that window up to over 5,000 Pascals or 220 miles an hour of wind pressure.

Ashlie Walker - Build SMART
With the chambers we're able to demonstrate those visual compelling statements of building failures that are going to question the industry standard to say, is this too low? Is the threshold so low that anyone can pass and people don't even know. There's a stamp on it that says it's great and most people are like, well it has a stamp.

Shawn Desrosier
The standard is the minimum benchmark that everybody agrees to.

Laverne Dalgleish
As we're developing standards, we can do two ways. We can start from the bottom and go up. Can we start with our materials or we can do a whole building for thermal performance and moisture management and so on and so forth. They're gonna work away down. And how do we test? So we have an idea. If we put this wall assembly, this roof assembly together, it's asking you to work as intended.

Ashlie Walker
Industry-standard is not enough. Industry Standard is on a nice warm sunny day that you don't have to wear too much sunscreen. Imagine spring. Well, why is that important? Because the buildings and the behaviors of buildings are not understood and the industry thinks that every day is a spring day.

Tom Schneider
A machine like this that we'd been studying for the last couple of days is the kind of equipment that will point to materials that can be flooded. They can be dried out, cleaned off, and put back into service without disassembly. And as we do that, the indoor air quality and the cost of owning and operating and maintaining a building is addressed in indoor air quality is addressed. Kids in school get better grades when the indoor air quality is better. People are in better moods. People just have a higher quality of life if they're living in healthy buildings. And that's very important to me personally and to us as an organization.