Building Enclosure Design Guide

BC Housing released a second edition of the “Building Enclosure Design Guide” to reflect the changes to the BCBC 2018 and VBBL 2014 (note: VBBL 2019 is the current standard and generally written in parallel with the BCBC 2018). The Guide presents performance issues and general information about materials, assemblies, and envelope principles.

With the increase in allowable height, and the ever-increasing popularity of wood-frame buildings in BC, the first four sections of this guide should now be mandatory reading for building designers. Overarching principles are discussed and applied to very common multi-unit residential buildings that are now being built en masse. Some of these concepts may be familiar to those that have worked in construction, or those who actively pursued thermodynamics and applied building science in their education. However, the Guide presents a refresher of best practices giving answers to how the envelope system works and what it intends on doing.

There are 100+ details presented in Section 6. This is arguably the most valuable part of the Guide. While the overall conclusion is that there are many ways to solve the problem, the details may give a starting point for discussions, adoptions, and adaptations of best practice by designers and builders.

This is a thorough and well-organized guide, but its flaw is that it fails at being succinct. This may be because of the complexity of the subject, or due to the editing of the source material. For example, the lists in Section 5 are fairly repetitive over multiple details. While the repetition helps summarize and drive the point, the Guide could go one step further (provide a summary matrix) or half a step back (reduce the repetition to notation and provide more illustration).

I originally ordered this book after having difficulty while designing building components in a design office. Coincidentally, the day the book arrived was the day I got terminated. So here is to finding something new, following best practices, and staying informed! And if you have an interesting structural design team for me to join, please get in touch!