What happens here?

What happens here?

Buildings, energy, energy policy, indoor air quality, problems, triumphs, successes, failures and the people and processes that affect them.

Feel free to draw any tangential connection you think appropriate.

I love spirited and enthusiastic exchanges, but please maintain the decorum.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Delight, a building science trait.

I spend most of my time thinking about the technical aspects of buildings. Water intrusion, air infiltration, insulation effectiveness, ventilation: these are the things that take up most of my time.

Geeking out on these is easy, working through the problems of moisture diffusion in an existing building and figuring out the best fix for a specific situation is so satisfying. Er, well, for me. But the truth is, most normal folks don’t walk into their house and think “I love this place because of the excellent building control layers.”

I once had the pleasure of working with a wonderful architect who said the most important thing he could put into a building was delight. If he didn’t get that, nothing else really mattered. He had all the technical chops you could ask for. He did great space utilization and circulation patterns. His designs were always appropriate to the surroundings. He did a great job keeping team members focused during job site meetings. And he was always thinking about how the occupants would experience the building. What would give them delight.

Creating delight is a tough job. What is delight? Does everyone experience it the same way? Can you really create it? Why is it so darn important?

Delight can come from lot of things. An unexpected trim detail, a view framed through a window, a lowered ceiling that makes a corner of a large room feel private. Some people are delighted by open spaces where many can congregate. Some like small, private rooms that they feel are theirs alone. Delight can be a very personal experience or it can be shared with everyone. Can delight be created? Yes, but you need to be open to experiencing it.

The importance? Delight can lead to love and when people love a building they care for it. If you really love your home you know that a roof leak is hurting something you love. Just as you notice little changes in your child's demeanor and suspect an illness you’re more likely to notice the small changes in a home that could be hinting at a problem. A well maintained (and loved) house will serve you better and cost you less, returning that love.

That sounds all warm and fuzzy, but how is delight a building science trait? Well, if the building doesn’t meet your basic expectations of comfort, safety and durability you’re not going to be experiencing much delight. And, if your not getting the delight it’s less likely your going to want to do the maintenance that might improve your experience. So it’s all part of the feedback loop.

A complete building, a great building, has it all; delight, comfort, security and durability. If you’ve got a home that has some of the delight qualities you want but somehow isn’t as comfortable as you would like maybe you should call a building science professional for a little counsel. It could get your relationship back on solid footing, saving the distress of calling a real estate agent to initiate a divorce.

What makes your home delightful? I’d love to hear, let me know in the comments below.

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