Taking Building Envelope Testing Out of the Lab

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DuPont™ Tyvek® weather barrier and other DuPont weatherization products undergo vigorous building envelope testing in the laboratory and controlled environments, to help DuPont provide innovative solutions for the building industry.

In addition, DuPont continues to conduct building envelope testing in the real world, with innovative portable wall units called Relocatable Building Enclosure Test Stations (RBETS).

Innovation On The Move

DuPont worked with Building Science Corporation of Waterloo, Ontario and Somerville, Massachusetts to design RBETS.  These 40-foot units are specially made using intermodal shipping containers.  So they are portable enough to test the performance of wall assemblies and their component materials in a variety of climates and locations across North America.

Testing In Diverse Climates

The first RBETS was installed in 2006, in Tampa, Florida.  Following one and a half years of data gathering and the establishment of an operating protocol, the same RBETS unit was moved to Sarasota, Florida for a second test series that remains ongoing.  In 2008, an RBETS was installed outside of Portland, Oregon to conduct real-world building envelope testing in one of the most challenging climates in the U.S. in terms of moisture management.

A Real World Laboratory

To study performance in a wide range of climate conditions, RBETS are outfitted to accommodate up to 16 different types of wall assemblies.  Each panel is embedded with sensors that monitor wood moisture content, relative humidity, and temperature.  Behind the walls, an automatic wetting system provides an added degree of test rigor.  And the units are also fitted with rain gauges, solar sensors and a weather station to gather additional valuable data.

RBETS wall assemblies include facades made from three-coat stucco, fiber cement and stone veneer.  Other variables include open stud and sheathed construction, different insulation types, and various techniques to promote rapid drainage and drying of water that finds its way into the wall.