“How do you deliver a daylight-filled building that everyone loves, but not the energy hog that owners hate?”

It’s a question that begs another question, “How do I do that within building code?”

These questions are central to the work of Peter Babaian. As principal and head of the Chicago office of Simpson Gumpertz & Heger’s (SGH) Building Technology Division, Babaian has a direct influence on how those questions are answered in many new and rehabilitative building design projects. SGH is an engineering firm that designs, investigates, and rehabilitates structures, building enclosures, and materials throughout the U.S., Canada, and more than 30 countries.

Which Path?

“We can talk about optimizing the design for location, siting, lighting, mechanicals, and the enclosure system,” Babaian explains. “But what it really comes down to is balancing the wall system with energy performance. To do that within code, designers can go down a prescriptive, performance, or whole-building energy modeling path.”

Which design path is best? That depends on the objective, says Babaian.

“Let’s look at whole-building energy modeling. Per the International Energy Conservation Code, our proposed design energy cost has to be less than 85 percent of the annual energy cost of standard reference design,” he says.

Beyond the Obvious

“Now it has to be under 85 percent of that on a whole-building energy analysis,” Babaian notes. Weighing the economics of natural gas versus electricity, for example, means a clear understanding of the efficiency, transmission, and cost factors involved. The “obvious” answer may not always be the best energy-performance answer, Babaian argues.

Babaian cites the wall system as a key player in energy-smart design. “Brick masonry and CMU are Cadillac wall systems. If a little water gets into a brick or CMU wall system, it’s going to absorb it, hold it, and release it over time. But laying brick is costly,” he says.

Owens Corning AIA Chicago Highlights


Babaian likes a new breed of wall systems “that pick-up masonry and other materials and allow as much continuous insulation as possible. … The products are out there. They’re kind of new to the market. But they work. We think you’re going to see more and more of them installed on buildings. We think you’re going to see more and more code officials require them as they educate themselves on the latest code requirements.”

Enclosure Solutions

One option is Owens Corning’s Enclosure Solutions, which allow architects to choose from complete, prespecified packages or customize components to meet the special demands of their project, all supported by Owens Corning expert advisers and technical resources.

Enclosure Solutions are engineered to meet the highest standards for thermal, safety, and green performance. With these solutions, architects can meet and exceed new energy and building codes while using familiar and well-established building materials and construction methods.

To learn more, go to www.owenscorning.com/enclosure.