Build SMART For Designers

Tim McDonald, an architect, developer, and builder for Onion Flats LLC in Philadelphia, received his Passive House certification nine years ago. When he started, designing a building to Passive House levels of efficiency came with several challenges. “It was from scratch in all ways,” he says. I had to think through the most effective way to design the thermal envelope, the air barrier and the weather resistant barriers. I had to figure out the details of how a window joined with the wall so that it not only shed water but maintained the air tightness of the thermal envelope.”


Build SMART Eliminates the Challenges

According to McDonald, the biggest benefit of the Build SMART Building Envelope System is that “you’re pretty much guaranteed the performance of the envelope.” This systematized approach means that architects don’t have to worry about figuring out all the details anymore. “I know exactly where the window heights are going to be,” McDonald says. “I know exactly where things are going to line up. I know exactly that the way it’s drawn is the way it’s going to be built, which isn’t always the case when it comes to designers.” 


Now Every Architect Can Design High-Performance Buildings

Changing the way you’ve always done something can be hard. The great thing about Build SMART is there’s nothing new to learn. “It’s not reinventing the way we build buildings,” McDonald says. “We’re building the buildings pretty much in the exact same way, so now everybody who builds buildings can build high-performance buildings.” But what about the increased costs to build a high-performance building? Build SMART is helping eliminate that barrier as well. According to McDonald, “I think what Build SMART has done, is that they have figured out a system of building that delivers a high-performance or net-zero-capable building at comparable cost to every day code construction. And that is the magic of Build SMART.”