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Buildings—The right stuff

An ORNL-led team conducts moisture durability simulations on construction materials, which will add real-world data to a new system developed to help builders and home designers make informed decisions. Credit: Rachel Brooks/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

February 1, 2018 – A new system being developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory will help builders and home designers select the best construction materials for long-term moisture durability. “It has become challenging to make informed decisions because of modern building code requirements and new products and materials hitting the market,” ORNL’s Philip Boudreaux said. Researchers will couple input from structural and materials experts with data gleaned from running approximately 800,000 building envelope simulations on ORNL’s Titan supercomputer, accounting for choice of materials, climate, orientation, air tightness and indoor conditions. “The resulting comprehensive database will be accessible via a user-friendly web-based tool, which is undergoing beta testing,” Boudreaux said. ORNL detailed their method in the Journal of Building Physics. The team will further fine-tune the system with data from real-world moisture durability simulations performed on wall assemblies using the lab’s Heat, Air and Moisture Penetration Test Chambers.