Moisture control solutions for specialty buildings

A six-part editorial series on avoiding moisture issues in hospitals, museums, natatoriums, and other specialty buildings

January 09, 2009 |

Moisture control design tips for hospitals and healthcare facilities

When discussing moisture-related problems in high-humidity buildings, natatoriums and museums typically come to mind as the most challenging building types. However, specific design requirements for temperature, relative humidity (RH), and air pressure differentials in hospitals and healthcare facilities can create moisture conditions that are equally problematic. Read the article

Design guidelines for museums, archives, and art storage facilities

Museums, archives, and art storage facilities require special design consideration for a number of reasons, most notably that the value of the building’s contents often exceeds the value of the building itself. Even a minor shortfall in building performance with respect to heat, air, and moisture control can compromise the collections and lead to a multi-million dollar problem. Read the article

Diagnosing and solving moisture problems in natatoriums

Natatoriums, particularly when located in cold climates, are among the most challenging building types for architects and engineers. Interior moisture levels are extremely high, with dew points ranging from 60°F to 70°F. At these levels, even natatoriums in mild climates are susceptible to moisture-related problems. Issues typically encountered in natatoriums are condensation on interior surfaces, condensation within walls and roofs, and corrosion of interior components. Read the article

Moisture design tips for ice rinks
Ice rinks present several unique challenges for designers, all stemming from the fact that the floor of the rink is maintained at below-freezing temperatures while the remainder of the building is kept much warmer. Interior temperature and relative humidity levels in ice rinks can vary widely, as many ice rinks are not intentionally heated or cooled, and may or may not be ventilated. Read the article

Building enclosure design guidelines for freezers and cold storage facilities

Cold storage facilities can be thought of as typical, heated buildings turned inside out. Instead of designing to keep heat in during cold weather, they are designed to keep it out. Whereas typical heated buildings may experience condensation in cold weather due to moist air exfiltration, summertime air infiltration is the primary concern in cold storage buildings. Read the article

Moisture control guidelines for indoor ski parks
Indoor snow parks represent the absolute extreme in terms of interior/exterior design conditions, and with only a few dozen in the world, pose many challenges that few designers have faced. Design of these facilities must take into account problems associated with both low temperature and high humidity buildings. This article presents the unique challenges associated with these buildings as well as design strategies for addressing those challenges.Read the article
About the author
Sean O’Brien is a Senior Project Manager in the New York City office of Boston-based Simpson Gumpertz & Heger Inc. O’Brien specializes in building science and building envelope performance, including computer simulation of heat, air, and moisture migration issues. He has investigated and designed repairs for a variety of buildings types, from condominiums to art museums, and has published papers on topics including moisture migration in masonry wall systems and condensation resistance of windows and curtain walls. He can be reached at
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