Primer

What Is Building Science, Anyway?

Building science is an integrated discipline that stands many conventional design and construction ideas on their heads.

February 2, 2012

Building science is an integrated blend of technical disciplines, including physics, chemistry, biology, climatology, and even ecology. It involves understanding everything from molecules and materials to mock-ups and models. Deep understanding and integration of all these disciplines takes time; maybe that is why many of our building scientists are on the mature end of the spectrum.

Sometimes you will hear “building physics” used interchangeably with “building science,” but building physics focuses only on the complex interplay of heat, air, and moisture flows within and across the building enclosure. Building science includes all this and adds people to the mix: it is the conditions occupants impose on the indoor environment that complicate the science of building performance. The best indoor temperature and relative humidity mid-winter for people is very different from what the exterior wall “prefers.” And just think how simple the perfect wall would be without any windows!