Weather and the Durability of Buildings

Weather and the Duability of Buildings

Buildings are constantly subjected to weather and environmental elements. From wind, sunlight, temperature, and rain, climate can have a big impact on the durability of buildings. Because of this, building design, construction methods, and materials will vary from one place to another to accommodate these weather challenges.

Wind is a significant factor in building and construction because of its destructive capability. Climates in cold regions, plains and along coastlines experience days of windy conditions. Buildings must withstand constant pressure and be resistant to weathering over the years from grainy debris. Both wind speed and direction must be considered in the design process for the building to be able to withstand the peak of wind forces. Building features like roofs and cladding are most vulnerable to wind.

Rainfall is also an important consideration when constructing buildings. Accumulation of rainfall can be detrimental to the integrity of a building. Buildings in rainy climates are at a greater risk of water damage, and therefore are built with slanted roofs as opposed to flat roof systems. Protecting internal structures and materials from rainfall is also essential and why you need a solid roof barrier and underlying membrane. Rain-heavy climates also threaten foundations where buildings can flood once the soil gets saturated. Sometimes the foundation shifts. In this type of environment, contractors need to analyze the soil and compensate with material that will help move water around the building.

Snowfall can also affect a building’s roofing and heating. Regions in high elevations expect snow every year and buildings and roofs need to be constructed to accommodate the added weight. These buildings also tend to have steeper roofs to both distribute the snow’s weight and to discourage it from collecting too much in one place. Plumbing, heating, and utilities will also be impacted in these regions and builders will need to take that into consideration in their design.

Temperature has a significant influence on the materials used in a building project. Air temperature determines the materials used for the above-ground structure, while soil temperature plays a big role in the choice of foundation. The average air temperature also determines the use and thickness of insulation in a building, with colder climates needing more insulation to retain heat. In hot, dry climates, roofs can wear down faster, and buildings can age more quickly. Color matters when it comes to roofs in hotter regions. Darker colors absorb more heat than lighter colors, therefore a white roof may be ideal.

Sunlight is an important consideration because of the role of the sun’s energy. Warmer regions of the world have different building practices and designs to block more sunlight. For example, smaller windows are used to limit the amount of sunlight entering a building, as opposed to colder regions where the window to wall ratio changes to allow more sunlight in the space. Designing buildings to face a certain way is also an important task for architects to capture light at certain times of the day and avoid it at others.

Finally, humidity is a significant factor for design and materials. Higher levels of humidity increase the likelihood of condensation and water erosion, so water-resistant and anti-corrosive materials are chosen to limit this issue. Furthermore, air circulation in buildings with higher internal or external humidity is a more significant consideration to protect the structural integrity.

The earth’s weather and climate differ drastically across regions. When designing a building, it is important to take these challenges into consideration. Architects have the knowledge and expertise to design a building that will withstand the environment in which it is being built.