Feature Article

Mold in Buildings: What It Is and How to Keep It Out

In Foresthill, California, a couple stands and watches as the local fire department torches their stricken home; starting over with a new home, they claim, will cost less than fixing the problems. In Cincinnati, Ohio, a well-known local builder, Zaring Homes, is driven into insolvency and restructuring as 100—and counting—of 350 nearly identical new homes each requires tens of thousands of dollars in remediation and renovation. In Stuart, Florida, a judgment of $14 million is levied against the builder of a new county courthouse. And in New York City, two apartment building owners face 125 lawsuits seeking a total of $8 billion in damages for personal injuries from living in those buildings.

The common thread in all these building failures? Mold. Mold and associated indoor air quality problems have building scientists shaking their heads in dismay and lawyers signing up for building science seminars. The first national Mold Litigation Conference is being held this June in Los Angeles. According to Steve Elisha, a principal with the law firm Elisha Ekimoto & Harada, a Honolulu firm specializing in building failures, “mold is the asbestos of this decade.”

The reasons for this relatively new and growing problem are both simple and complex and have a lot to do with the integration (or lack thereof) of good design, sound construction details, proper commissioning, and careful operation of buildings. It’s prime material for green builders and architects to heed and use in making the case for the integrated design approach of green building. In this article, we’ll take a look at what mold is, address the significance of the problem of mold in buildings, and lay out strategies for designing, building, and operating our structures to reduce the likelihood of mold contamination.

Published June 1, 2001

(2001, June 1). Mold in Buildings: What It Is and How to Keep It Out. Retrieved from https://www.buildinggreen.com/feature/mold-buildings-what-it-and-how-keep-it-out