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Why are we still using 150-year-old technology to test…

Between 2000 and 2019, the number of reported Legionnaires’ disease cases in the United States rose by 800%. This disease is caused by the Legionella bacteria and kills over 10% of people infected. Almost 10,000 cases of legionellosis (an umbrella term for two illnesses caused by Legionella bacteria) were reported in 2018 alone. This deadly waterborne disease is …


Hidden Underfoot

THE BEST NAME FOR A CRAWL SPACE DOG

This month, I want to talk about something that has been described to me as the “most terrifying” part of a building: the crawl space. In early February, I got a call from one of my clients asking me to come out to El Paso to do an air quality survey in a building near the border. This job came with a stipulation that I would have to go into the crawl space …


What We Don’t Know

CHRISTINE WILLIAMSON PUTS BUILDING SCIENCE IN YOUR HANDS

Christine Williamson is a building scientist who made it through architecture school, in her own words, “by the skin of my teeth.” Learning to be an architect is famously difficult, but Christine suspected, quite correctly, that learning architecture would be very different than actually working as an architect.


First Rule of (Building Science) Fight Club

LET’S TALK ABOUT IT!

Social media is one of the biggest time wasters humanity has ever invented. You can open an app to check your updates after dinner, and suddenly it’s past midnight! That said, of course I’m on social media. It’s 2020 after all! There are two forms of social media I use: LinkedIn and Instagram. LinkedIn is a good opportunity for me to learn about …


Danger in the Air

ARE YOUR TENANTS BREATHING IN BAD WATER?

When the day’s stress gets to you, taking a deep breath can help you find a sense of clarity again. However, if that breath is taken near an untreated hot tub or in a building with a dirty hot water tank, you could be inviting deadly bacteria into your body.


Setting Sail?

WHERE IS TRAVIS THIS MONTH?

In February, things get low. The humidity gets low, the temperature gets low, and the number of occupants’ complaints gets low as well. This means I’m not as busy in February. After the busy year that was 2019, I’m okay with that. A low February means I get to take a vacation.


That’s So Last Year

IS YOUR BUILDING SUFFERING FROM OUTDATED ‘TRENDS’?

With the new year comes a new opportunity to be hip — or at least more put together than last year. Commercial buildings don’t often have to worry about being trendy, but there are some outdated problems we see in buildings every day that could easily be addressed. Here are some outdated “trends” you can fix that will improve both the look of your building and its indoor air quality.


Particles, Fibers, and Dust, Oh My!

DIAGNOSING AN UNHEALTHY BUILDING WITH AIRBORNE PARTICLE COUNTS

Airborne particles are an often-overlooked aspect of indoor air quality (IAQ). Even among my own peers, particles are rarely a top priority. In this area, I’m an outlier.
When I do indoor air quality surveys, not only do I look at the standard environmental indicators like carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, temperature, and relative humidity, but I also collect airborne particle counts at that time.


Something in the Air

STRANGE CASES OF IAQ MYSTERIES

While most indoor air quality issues are pretty straightforward, the mix of environmental factors and human elements can create some surprising circumstances. It’s not all mold from water damage or problems with the HVAC system. Just look at these strange IAQ mysteries we’ve solved over the years.


Tools of the Trade

WHAT MAKES AN IAQ EXPERT

Technology is only as smart as the person using it. A quality graphing calculator might be able to determine the force needed to break free of the Earth’s gravity, but I’m not a rocket scientist. You could give me the fanciest calculator on the market, but you shouldn’t use any equation I come up with to build rockets. It’s not enough to have a quality piece of equipment; you need
to know how to use it.