Randall Lamb Association

Archive for Project Insights

INsight: Air Barrier Auditing

May 23, 2013


What is Air Barrier Auditing?

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 40% of the energy used to heat and cool a building is due to uncontrolled air leakage. In an ever-evolving industry and with upcoming code changes underway, air barriers will soon become a code requirement for all new projects across the country. The California Energy Commission (CEC) recently revised the building energy standard, Title 24. It incorporates the air tightness testing protocols established by the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) for new homes and commercial buildings, effective January 1, 2014. These new energy efficiency standards for the State of California will enforce the goal to meet “net zero” energy homes by 2020, which means these structures will produce zero net energy consumption and zero carbon emissions on an annual basis.

Why Air Barriers?

The Air Barrier Association of America (ABAA) defines an air barrier as “a system of building assemblies within the building enclosure—designed, installed and integrated in such a manner as to stop the uncontrolled flow of air into and out of the building enclosure.” The air barrier is not only an important energy saving tool, but an important component of a building enclosure that can:

  • Improve HVAC system performance
  • Improve smoke and fire control
  • Increase occupant comfort by improving air quality indoors
  • Reduce building enclosure moisture problems
  • Reduce building heating and cooling costs
  • Reduce greenhouse gas production
  • Improve acoustical isolation
  • Control Odor and contaminants
  • Result in sustainable, durable buildings

By reducing the air infiltration and exfiltration through the exterior enclosure to almost insignificant amounts, the air barrier reduces energy consumption by lowering the associated heating and cooling loads, which then allows for a downsized HVAC system. Air leakage can have detrimental effects on how a building functions, and reduce the life span of a building.



Air Barrier Testing

Air Barrier Testing – otherwise known as boundary testing – is a vital part of new federal regulations that apply to construction projects in all government facilities, including military bases. If not addressed at the start of construction, general contractors could be left with expensive retrofits at the end of the project. California Title 24 (2013) Building Energy Efficiency Standards that go into effect in 2014 require that all commercial buildings (any non-residential structures) are to be constructed with a continuous Air Barrier System and tested to verify that the building envelope leakage does not exceed 0.40 cfm/ft2 at 75 pascals, in accordance with ASTM E799. Using the most recent ASTM standards, Randall Lamb provides Building Envelope Consulting/Air Barrier Testing and Thermal Imaging Services to verify performance and troubleshoot air barrier systems. In conjunction with the testing, thermal imaging is used as a diagnostic tool to determine air leakage pathways.

Randall Lamb first introduced Commissioning Services to our clients in 2010, under the direction of Michael (Mike) Kohler, CxA, CBCP, CBST, ABAA Auditor. With the increasing importance of optimizing a building’s performance, in particular air barrier testing, Mr. Kohler is expanding Randall Lamb’s role to include air barrier installation auditing, building envelope ASTM testing, and building envelope thermal imaging studies. Randall Lamb offers these services in response to the need and requirement for building efficiency, reduced costs, and healthy buildings.

With these upcoming mandates for participation by the Federal and State governments, these services will be necessary to confirm how a building is functioning. As one of the first ABAA Audit firms in California, Randall Lamb is committed and equipped to adapt to these new regulations.

Technical Services: Commissioning / Air Barrier Auditing / Mechanical QC

As part of Randall Lamb’s efforts to expand its Integrated Services, we have taken on a more expansive role in the study, evaluation, and improvement of a building’s performance. In addition to improving the life and efficiency of a building from the start, our commissioning team can also train owners and facility managers on how to care for their buildings for the long haul. Our technical services take form in many different ways, whether it’s providing these services during the life of a new construction project, making recommendations for systems that are already in place, or troubleshooting a defective system.  We have the tools and experience needed to solve complex issues.

As described above, Air Barrier Auditing is a new and important piece of the energy efficiency puzzle. The following projects are examples of the increasing role we are taking in these specialized services that will soon become mandatory in our industry.


Solana Beach School District, Pacific Highlands Ranch School, Solana Beach, CA

In addition to several recent commissioning projects that we have completed for the military – building commissioning and/or LEED v2.2 enhanced commissioning – Randall Lamb is currently performing commissioning services for the Solana Beach School District in an effort to enhance the quality of system start-up and aid in the orderly completion and transfer of systems for beneficial use by the owner. We are working directly for the owner and collaborating with Balfour Beatty Construction in the commissioning of this project, currently at 20% completion. As part of our commissioning process, Randall Lamb will test and inspect all of the mechanical, plumbing, and electrical systems to verify installation, operation, and efficiency.

Other recent examples of completed projects include the Coronado Island Marriott Resort, where we conducted chilled water plant commissioning; the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina cooling tower project oversight and commissioning; and LEED Commissioning for architect NBBJ’s new San Francisco office.



MCB Camp Pendleton, P-109 CNATT Aviation Training Facility – Harper Construction

Naval Base Coronado, P-705 Fitness Center – RQ Construction

Randall Lamb was hired to perform inspection services as well as Building Envelope Consulting/Air Barrier Testing Services and Infrared Thermography for the two military projects listed above. As part of the consulting services, we will provide technical assistance to the contractors during installation, pre-test the air barrier system with the contractors, and assist in locating building leakage using infrared thermography. The deliverables include assembling a complete thermography report to present to each of the contractors, and performing building final pressure testing using Retrotec blower door equipment and software.

Posted in Commissioning, Project Insights

INsight: Randall Lamb to REinvent Living at Marine Corps Base (MCB) Quantico, VA

February 12, 2013

MCB Quantico, The Basic School (TBS)
New Student Officer Living Quarters,
Quantico, Virginia

Randall Lamb will be working with Harper Construction Company, and Cass | Sowatsky | Chapman + Associates to provide MEP engineering services for the design/build construction of two (2) new student-officer living quarters buildings on The Basic School (TBS) campus. “TBS” educates newly commissioned or appointed officers to prepare them for duty as a company-grade officer in the Fleet Marine Force.


This project is considered Phases5-6 of an eight-building replacement plan and includes two 78,000 gsf buildings (P-566, P-567). Each building contains living areas, support spaces, offices, meeting and conference rooms, as well as laundry, housekeeping and public restrooms.  Each building will house 100-124 apartments with 5 administrative units. Each apartment utilizes a single sleeping room for two people with a shared bathroom configuration. The Administrative module is identical in size to allow future flexibility. Specific design elements include designing geothermal heat pump systems mated with an existing base-wide HTHW system.

Project includes BIM modeling requirements to an “LOD 300” level, as defined by AIA, for certain aspects of the project needing close coordination (mechanical rooms, etc.) The facility and all site features shall be designed and constructed using USGBC LEED-NC and will achieve a Silver Certification.

Posted in Project Insights

INsight: Updating Our Hospitals, Expansions

October 24, 2011

Updating Our Hospitals: Expanding into the Future

In order to keep up with demand and technology, some hospitals have implemented major expansions of their existing sites. In children’s hospitals, the increasing prevalence of chronic conditions such as diabetes, developmental disorders and the rising rates of infant prematurity and childhood obesity are placing added stress on pediatric hospitals nationwide. Advances in medical care for chronic conditions have improved and might require specialized care for children throughout their youth, including frequent and lengthy hospital admissions.

National standards of care set the optimal occupancy rate for pediatric specialty hospitals at 65%, so that beds are available for emergency admissions and unpredictable disease outbreaks. In order to avoid a high occupancy rate and provide availability for a growing population, expansion may be paramount.


Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego, Acute Care Pavilion, San Diego, CA

In order to accommodate the current and future patient demand of a highly respected and award-winning children’s hospital, and after securing the supplemental funding needed from other sources, Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego implemented a $260 million expansion on their health center campus. Just off the I-805, Rady Children’s new 279,000 sq ft, 4-story Acute Care Pavilion is located on a 148,650 sq ft site, adjacent to the Hospital’s Rose Pavilion and connected via a bridge.

The Acute Care Pavilion includes a surgical center, neo-natal intensive care center, cancer center and new emergency generator building. The facility has 16 operating rooms with associated support departments, a 28-bed hematology and oncology unit, 10-bed bone marrow transplant intensive care unit, 32-bed neo-natal intensive care unit, and 84 acuity adaptable medical surgery beds. The project was completed last year, two weeks early.

Rady Children’s Hospital Acute Care Pavilion is one of the first LEED certified OSHPD facilities in California, and one of the first LEED certified healthcare facilities within San Diego County. Randall Lamb’s electrical engineering team contributed to the team’s energy efficiency goals.

Designed by San Francisco-based architectural firm Ashen + Allen and built by McCarthy, the new Children’s Hospital Acute Care Pavilion features a glass-fiber reinforced, precast concrete exterior; dimensional travertine stone; storefront and curtain wall glass systems with colored accents; and metal panels, railings and canopies.


Rady Children’s Ronald McDonald House and Parking Garage, San Diego, CA

Randall Lamb also provided electrical engineering for the addition of a $25.4 million, 1-story, 45,000 sq ft, 47-guest Ronald McDonald housing atop an existing 6-story, 1,016 car parking garage, also a Randall Lamb project. The 19th Ronald McDonald House to be built, it is home to the families of patients who are receiving critical care at the Hospital, and four times the size of the hospital’s previous patient parent/family housing facility. With an impressive list of amenities, it serves families by offering dining services, a living room, quiet rooms, a chapel, a teen center, laundry facilities, computer resources, a beauty salon, exercise room, outdoor play space and healing gardens.

Since the hospital and parking structure operate 24/7, particular attention was paid to passive security systems, with open architecture meeting many of the objectives of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (National Crime Prevention Council). The structure is well lit with energy-efficient lighting. Four elevators serve the parking structure and the Ronald McDonald House. Front and back cab doors were designed to orient pedestrians toward their destinations and provide better passive security in the lobbies. Since its completion in 2009, the Ronald McDonald House has received an impressive list of awards, including:

  • San Diego Associated General Contractors – 2009 Build San Diego Award – Private Work
  • International Parking Institute (IPI) – 2010 Award of Excellence, Award of Merit
  • California Construction Magazine – Best of 2009 Awards Competition, Southern California Overall Top Project
  • California Construction Magazine – Best of 2009 Awards Competition, Outstanding Project Management Award, Small Projects
  • California Construction Magazine – Best of 2009 Awards Competition, Top Honor in Green Building

This project was a labor of love for the entire design and construction team, and a significant amount of the time and effort was donated to the Ronald McDonald House by all parties involved for this most worthy cause – with the endless satisfaction of making a difference.

Posted in Project Insights