Thermal and Moisture Drive

Contemporary building enclosures consist of multiple layers of materials with a range of thermal and moisture resistances. The enclosures' ability to prevent and control condensation depends on the material properties, location, and sequence of individual layers within the assembly. Geographic location, configuration, and orientation will critically affect performance, rendering some designs highly suitable for one application but wholly inadequate for another. Many of these materials are susceptible to damage from condensation within the wall assemblies, making design for condensation control critical to the successful performance of wall and roof systems.


SGH uses computerized finite element simulation tools to calculate time-varying heat and moisture flow through building assemblies to design durable, reliable, and sustainable building enclosures.

In the past, moisture migration analysis was performed using steady-state hand calculations that did not account for rain, solar radiation, moisture storage, and other dynamic phenomena that occur in real buildings. The development of transient software capable of simulating the real performance of wall systems has given designers a powerful analytical tool, but one which must be used carefully in order to produce reliable results. Like any software, the quality of the results depends on the quality of the input. Reliable information is essential to generating meaningful and reliable results. Results must be carefully interpreted to avoid drawing incorrect conclusions that may lead to poor design choices. Our experience in design, construction, and investigation of buildings gives us a practical frame of reference that helps us to interpret simulation results and draw accurate conclusions from our analyses. Our capabilities include:

  • Determination of condensation risk within wall and roof assemblies and design of appropriate materials and configurations for air, water, and vapor control membranes
  • Forensic analysis of moisture-related building problems
  • Drying analysis of concrete and masonry materials
  • Analysis of transient heating/cooling of materials due to solar radiation in roofing underlayments and other temperature-sensitive materials
  • Effects of HVAC system operation on the building enclosure, particularly in museums and natatoriums