Leadership in Technology
SKA has a region-wide reputation for leadership in technology and design, which has helped us to grow into one of the major consulting engineering firms in North Carolina.
Finite Element Analysis (FEA) can be an important tool in solving complex structural engineering problems. A three-dimensional computer model is generated of the designed or as-built building components of the structure to be analyzed. FEA software produces a detailed visualization of elements distribution of stresses, bending and displacements.
A three-dimensional model of the structure that incorporates the compatibility of deformations and stresses simultaneously in each plane is necessary to accurately determine the actual movements due to thermal, wind and other loads applied to the skin of the structure.
BIM is the process of generating and managing building data. Three-dimensional, dynamic building modeling software (Autodesk Revit) is used in the creation of the model encompassing building geometry, spatial relationships, structural components, MEP systems and the other elements of the building. As the design process progresses, the model is updated along the way, ending in a comprehensive model used by all parties for coordination, estimating, planning and even future maintenance.
As a multi-disciplinary consulting engineering firm, BIM allows our team of engineers and designers from each discipline to coordinate designs and building components with increased accuracy and detail. The model also allows the Owner to visualize the building as an entire facility rather than individual components early on in the design process, helping to ensure that the end product meets or exceeds their expectations. Increased design detail and a clearer understanding of the project development result in reduced construction time, conflicts and cost.
SKA utilizes WUFI® software products to provide calculation of the transient coupled one- and two-dimensional heat and moisture transport in walls and other multi-layer building components exposed to natural weather. WUFI® software uses the latest findings regarding vapor diffusion and moisture transport in building materials.
Water can enter the roof system by means of condensation, damage and/or deterioration of the roofing membrane and flashing system. Moisture-laden roof materials retain more heat from the sun and hold the heat longer than surrounding, drier roof materials. This heat differential can be detected using an infrared camera. Large areas can be scanned and problem areas found more quickly than with other moisture detection methods. Areas of wet roof materials can easily be quantified, which allows for more accurate repair estimates. Infrared scans are typically conducted at night for accuracy when sufficient cooling of the roof surface has occurred. Areas of apparent wetness are marked on the roof surface during the scan, the images are digitally recorded, and a report is issued.
Infrared scans can also be performed on the roof prior to coating the existing membrane. Many coating manufacturers require that all wet materials be removed from the roof system before a warranty will be issued. Infrared imaging is the fastest and easiest way to determine the location and quantity of wet materials.
For those who manage large buildings, including an infrared roof survey as part of an ongoing maintenance program can produce significant cost savings. Areas of moisture located during infrared scans can be quantified and appropriate repairs performed. Maintenance programs with annual infrared surveys will increase the roof system life cycle and decrease damage to materials within the facility.
SKA has the capability to perform thermal and vapor transmission computer analysis of the building envelope including walls, roofs and window systems. These programs are essential tools used to understand how the transfer of heat and moisture through materials affects the facility. These tools and our expertise allow us to design systems that provide long term solutions to our clients ailing buildings.
In addition to building envelope engineering services, SKA is the regional leader in prime engineering design, technical peer review, commissioning, forensics investigations, litigation and insurance support. Our senior experts, some with over 40 years of experience, are highly sought after building forensic investigative engineers who validate and/or troubleshoot design solutions. This expertise allows us to not only identify and trouble-shoot building performance issues, but we can also skillfully perform repair design services when and if the need arises.
SKA provides clients with the technology tools they need to organize their projects. In fact, we have provided similar services for clients like Valley Health, a building envelope commissioning project that entailed review and recommendations for 44 facilities. SKA’s project scope at Valley Health was effective in highlighting what issues were present throughout its facility inventory, so proper planning could be in place to budget for future renovations. SKA developed a non-proprietary building inventory database tool, InformaDx™, for Valley Health to effectively manage their facility condition, repair, and maintenance status. This same tool is available to all of our clients for use in organizing condition assessments for each building or project, tracking testing schedules, managing warranties, informing capital plans and annual budgets, and monitoring progress of project and eventual construction phases.
The performance of building envelopes, windows and doors related to air and water intrusion is critical to maintaining the lifecycle of a building and managing costs over time. SKA works with clients to evaluate, measure, report, and repair potential issues. Tests are performed using high quality calibrated testing equipment in accordance with written industry standards from either the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) or American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) testing protocols. With extensive testing experience over several decades, a systematic approach was developed, resulting in SKA’s testing team’s efficiency and portability.
SKA’s testing services are often used for commissioning and quality assurance in new construction as a second or third party independent testing firm. Quality assurance testing is used to validate new windows and doors are installed to meet project specifications and product manufacturers’ installation requirements. The tests also determine if the windows and doors are properly flashed and sealed to prevent water infiltration. Forensic testing services help clients identify sources of water and air intrusions detected in existing buildings.
For those facilities that have exposed structures such as stadium bleachers, metal light poles, canopy structures, etc., the possibility of hidden conditions may be great. SKA has observed and investigated several failures of structures of this type and in most of these cases the owners were not aware that a problem existed until the failure occurred. As one client said, “We didn’t see that one coming!”
SKA has expertise and training in many areas of non-destructive testing and monitoring. Below is a list of some of the more common tests implemented in our observations:
- Ultrasonic steel testing
- Concrete Slab moisture testing
- Concrete corrosion testing
- Non-destructive stress-wave testing
- Infrared thermography for detecting building moisture
- Structural monitoring for alignment, crack widths, loading, etc.
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