Why nothing beats verification and expert advice on building products

AFRC Lab

The Australian building industry has a problem with the independence of its certifiers, says David Morehouse of AFRC Lab.

All too often window, door and façade suppliers are certifying their own work or engaging companies that have been involved in the design and or performance setting for the building. All this goes against the ethic of not testing your own work, and against umpteen codes of practice in the industry.

Some certifiers are using foreign software to perform the certification, using overseas boundary conditions and formulas or certifying against foreign standards instead of Australian standards leading to very different results.

To combat this problem, AFRC Lab (Advanced Fenestration Research and Certification Lab) – an expert provider of compliance verification services for windows, doors and facades – performs a quick, free-of-charge, assessment of any existing window, door or façade thermal certification report. It is amazing how many problems this can uncover.

AFRC Lab

David Morehouse, general manager of AFRC Lab, says nothing beats verification and expert advice.

“Condensation is chaos in a building,” David says.

“Where you have condensation, you have water. Water plus dust leads to mould. That leads to an unhealthy building.”

Just one dataset the lab can deliver is the condensation resistivity value of fenestration assemblies.

The analysis is based on the AFRC’s boundary conditions and weather data. This delivers a result of between zero (extremely bad) and 100 (perfect).

The lab can also produce thermal modelling to show exactly when and where condensation is likely to occur.

Air pressure simulation testing can give project teams reliable indications of how air will behave through a wall or window assembly, the volume of air can also be measured. Local weather data can be added to show how external air temperatures will interact within the building.

AFRC Lab also offers acoustic simulation testing.

“We are providing honest and accurate answers,” David says.

This is invaluable when specifiers, architects, builders and suppliers need excellent information and paperwork to ensure compliance with the National Construction Code or design specifications.

Imported products, particularly, may not have the performance values required by Australian and New Zealand standards.

That’s where independent testing and verification can act as an insurance policy during procurement.

The lab can deliver transparent and science-backed metrics on performance factors including U values, solar heat gain values, transmittable light levels and the Damage Weighted Transmittance Value.

This last set of data is important for projects which harvest natural light for interior lighting, while balancing the deleterious effect of UV light on fitout elements such as carpets, floorboards and couches, and artefacts such as artworks, within a space.

“We can report on that quite quickly – but a lot of people don’t even know it exists,” David says.

AFRC Lab

Consultants | Australia