Infrared Testing for Construction

cbeecherBuilding Envelope, Construction

The Everything Building Envelope podcast ventured into the topic of infrared technology recently, with Terry Malagoli and Ilsa McIntyre of Infrared Testing Inc. on hand to discuss how the technology is benefiting the building industry.

Infrared Testing Inc., based in Chicago, has grown from its modest beginnings in 1990, to a multi-million dollar corporation with a global presence. Terry Malogoli, founder and CEO, and company executive Ilsa McIntyre joined podcast host Chris Matthews to talk about how infrared technology is assisting with new requirements for testing and verifying building performance.

Infrared Testing for Building Commissioning

Testing and assessing the components of the building system — a top-to-bottom systems check referred to as building commissioning — to ensure that they are performing to optimal level has become common practice in the building industry. Building commissioning is essential for LEED certification and is required in the building codes of some states, such as California, to complement energy efficiency codes.

While building commissioning is usually associated with new construction, it’s also applied to older buildings that have taken on new life with re-development. Continuous commissioning is another facet of the practice that is gaining a foothold in the industry. Developed by Texas A&M University in response to the increased use of advanced technology, or IoT, in contemporary buildings, continuous commissioning tracks the efficiency of the building operations on an ongoing basis.

Infrared technology is proving to be an invaluable tool for building commissioning, able to detect areas of concern with minimal disturbance to the structure. Thermal imaging allows non-invasive exploratory work to identify leaks or faults in construction, to help building professionals like Chris Matthews know where to focus more in-depth visual analysis and physical inspection.

Infrared Testing for Energy Efficiency

Infrared technology first made inroads in the building industry in the 1970s, when fuel prices galvanized interest in reducing energy consumption. Energy efficiency remains a core service for the use of infrared, which allows precise pinpointing of areas that are leading to excessive energy use.

Texas A&M University estimates up to one-fifth of the energy consumed in an average commercial building is wasted, due to poorly operating systems. Energy waste is also a threat to the longevity of the systems in the building, as well as the health of people who live or work there. Leaks that lead to waste aren’t always easy to find and that’s where infrared testing yields results.

Pinpointing the source of those elusive leaks that lead to escalating utility bills and “sick building syndrome” are a real-world example of where infrared testing contributes to providing cost-effective solutions for healthier, more efficient, buildings.

Bring on the Drones

Drone inspections have revolutionized the operations at Infrared Testing Inc., as Ilsa notes. Outfitted with thermal cameras, drones are sent to record roofs and overhangs, producing full, 360-degree views of every corner of the building that is otherwise inaccessible to the eye.

Drones have also opened up opportunities to apply infrared technology to the larger landscape. Infrared Testing Inc. has recently assisted with investigations of problems in transmission distribution lines in California — issues that could lead to widespread system failure, or even increase the intensity of wildfires, if left undetected.

Listen to the full conversation between Terry Malagoli and Ilsa McIntyre of Infrared Testing Inc. and Chris Matthews at Everything Building Podcast. While you’re there, take the opportunity to subscribe for upcoming discussions between the crew at GCI Consultants and other building industry experts.

You can find contact information, and more about the services of Infrared Testing Inc., here.