Green Building Solutions International

Air infiltration means moisture infiltration in the GCC region

Hotel rooms present a unique sustainability challenge. Hotels, in order to provide their high level of service to multiple users have windows and doors frequently left open for long periods of time and air conditioning variables that are greater than normal. There is the potential for extreme energy waste that threatens their sustainability status and results in unwanted costs to hotel operators. In the GCC's hot, humid climate and with room temperatures controlled by guests, air tightness of the building envelope is critical to preventing extended air leakage, driving up electricity usage and causing warm air infiltration, all adding to stress on the façade and overall building integrity.

Often the air barrier is also the water vapor barrier in hotel structures.

Warm desert air contains more moisture (water vapor) than dry air-conditioned air. In hotel rooms that are not air tight, as warm air meets cool dry air-conditioned air the water vapor becomes liquid water trapped inside walls. Building materials such as gypum, insulation, even clothes and furniture, can absorb this water formed from condensation. If left undisturbed this may become a breeding ground for destructive mould.

GBSI testing services were requested after initial investigation and rectification failed to eradicate moisture production in the walls. With a combination of infrared and smoke testing, GBSI was able to pin point the structural cause of the problem that had been overlooked in previous tests when only visual techniques were employed.

The cause of moisture infiltration and mould growth can be elusive. Ultimately GBSI was integral in finding a solution for hotel facilities management and worked with many consultants, including the owner, architect and developer’s teams to resolve the problem. Once rooms were rectified, GBSI conducted final air tightness tests in over 60 rooms to validate the air tightness of the solution.

Building envelope infrared thermography showing thermal bridging and façade integrity.
Non-destructive infrared image demonstrations the point of façade failure and moisture infiltration