Event 2020 BEC Annual Symposium - Earth, Air, Fire, and Water: A Building Science Medley

March 6, 2020 - 8:00am to 5:00pm

This event has already occurred.


Commons Conference Center at JJ Pickle Research Campus
10100 Burnet Road Bld 137
78758 Austin , TX
Phone: 512-452-4332


We've seen fire and we've seen rain. We've seen sunny days that we thought would never end. We hope to see you again...at the 2020 BEC Annual Symposium: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water: a Building Science Medley, where you are sure to see friends like Joe Lstiburek, Christine Williamson, Matt Risinger, and your fellow AIA BEC Austin group.

At this full day conference, be prepared to spend half the day learning from industry experts, and the other half visiting multiple performance mockup stations. Get ready to see spray racks, giant fans, electric brooms, and yes, even blowtorches while learning the effects of earth, air, fire, and water on our buildings and how standards and performance testing work to minimize their destruction.

Online registration is now closed. If you have not yet registered, please do so on-site from 7am-8:30am. 

Online registration is available until 3:00pm on Thursday, March 5. On-site registration will be available for $250.
All sales are final, and registration is transferrable. Please see our Cancellation policy


Mockups are underway!! Come and watch as we put them to the test!
See you Friday!



Event Details

Program  (See course descriptions below)
7:00 – 8:30 - Registration
8:00 – 8:30 - Welcome – Kayla Maines, Andrea Hellerman and Michael Craig
8:30 – 10:00 - Presentation – Air, Fire, Water, Buildings and FLAs (1.5 LU/HSW)
10:00 – 10:15 - Break: Expo
10:15 – 11:15 - Presentation – Fire Performance of Exterior Enclosures (1 LU/HSW)
11:15 – 11:45 - Presentation – Matt Risinger - Introduction to Performance Mock-up Sessions
11:45 – 1:00 - Lunch: Expo
1:00 – 3:30 - Earth, Air, Fire, and Water Performance Mock-up Rotation (3 LU/HSW)
3:30 – 4:00 - Expo / Happy Hour begins
4:00 – 5:00 - Performance Testing Panel Discussion with Q&A (1 LU/HSW)
5:00 – 6:00 - Network Happy Hour (last call 6PM)

6.5 LU/HSW credit offered



Air, Fire, Water, Buildings and FLAs*
1.5 LU/HSW
with Joe Lstiburek, Ph.D., P.Eng., ASHRAE Fellow Principal

Keeping wind and rain out while also keeping occupants safe during a fire are a big deal. They are key functional outcomes for buildings and their enclosures. Did the construction process meet its objectives? This is a key question for durability and life safety, and one that the FLA (*Four letter acronym e.g. NFPA, ABAA, AAMA, ASTM) family of testing standards seeks to answer. This seminar offers context and commentary from an industry thought leader on the past, present, and future of some of the key industry standards for Air, Fire, and Water.

Learning Objectives:

Recognize the different testing standards such as AMAA, ASTM, and NFPA 285, and their history of involvement with creating healthy and safe environments. 
  2. Assess the value of performance testing against different detrimental elements such as air, fire, water, and earth. 
  3. Measure the level of health and safety that is at stake when elements such as air, fire, and water penetrate a building enclosure. 
  4. Analyze past projects and buildings that did and did not utilize performance testing procedures and the results of the durability/resilience of the building in each case. 


Fire Performance of Exterior Enclosures

with Matthew Carlton and Kim Clawson

Energy codes now require the use of continuous insulation (CI) for non-wood framed construction in most US Climate Zones. Foam plastics, such as extruded polystyrene, have been widely used as continuous insulation for the last several decades. Although model codes have included requirements for fire performance testing of exterior walls which contain flammable insulation for over 20 years, many design professionals, contractors and code officials are just becoming aware of these requirements and are unsure how to comply. High profile disasters (including recent facade fires in high rise buildings abroad) have raised public concerns and brought attention to fire performance of building enclosures. This presentation will summarize current code requirements for building enclosure fire performance, explain the tests that are performed to verify assembly compliance, and suggest best practices for designers seeking to meet these requirements.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Summarize Code requirements for fire performance of exterior walls.
  2. Describe test methods used to rate fire performance of exterior walls.
  3. Indicate Code requirements for continuous insulation of exterior enclosures.
  4. Specify detailing of exterior walls to improve fire performance.


Earth, Air, Fire and Water Performance Mock-up Rotation

There will be 4 stations for attendees to cycle through with testing methods for earth, air, fire, and water. There will be a 30-minute introduction by Matt Risinger to the Performance Mock-up Rotation, followed by attendees having 30 minutes per each of the 4 performance testing mock-up stations to observe the procedure and ask questions and 10 minutes to change stations. At each mock-up station, there will be a dedicated Mock-up Host to describe the process of the testing, the health, and durability benefits of the tests being performed, and answers questions attendees might have. Mock-up hosts will be Matt Risinger, Christine Williamson, Trevor Brown, and Matt Carlton at mock-up stations 1. Earth, 2. Air, 3. Water, and 4. Fire.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Describe testing procedures used to assess a building systems durability, level of tightness, or flame spread. 
  2. Recognize levels of resistance of a system or material being tested in order to understand the affects of the system on the life and durability of a building and it's occupants. 
Acquire answers form industry experts on the value of testing in regards to healthier and safer buildings. 
Evaluate building enclosure testing procedures and how they can reduce risk to the owner and improve occupant comfort. 


Performance Testing Panel Discussion with Q&A

This panel will consist of industry experts Joseph Lstiburek and Christine Williamson, both of whom have been a part of the Building Science Corporation, Matt Risinger with Risinger Build, and Trevor Brown with JE Dunn Construction. Each will comment on the value of building enclosure performance testing and answer pre-written and audience questions, moderated by John Posenecker. 

Learning Objectives:

  1. Acquire understanding on how building performance testing can lead to more durable and healthier buildings. 
  2. Assess what is and is not working in the current testing standards available. 
  3. Discover what performance testing might be beneficial on projects to prevent issues before they begin on enclosure elements like windows, roofs, and waterproofing, and the resulting impact on occupant safety and comfort. 
Build an understanding of what testing standards are available and required by current codes. 


Featured Speakers 

Joseph Lstiburek, Ph.D., P.Eng., ASHRAE Fellow Principal

Joseph Lstiburek is the founding principal of Building Science Corporation. Dr. Lstiburek’s work ranges widely, from providing expert witness testimony to overseeing research and development projects, to writing for the ASHRAE Journal and buildingscience.com. Dr. Lstiburek’s commitment to advancing the building industry has had a lasting impact on building codes and practices throughout the world, particularly in the areas of air barriers, vapor barriers, and vented and unvented roof assemblies. For example, his work with industry partners through the Department of Energy’s Building America program led to significant research into the wetting and drying of walls and ultimately to a major code change relaxing the requirement for vapor barriers in the International Residential Code. Dr. Lstiburek is also an acclaimed educator who has taught thousands of professionals over the past three decades and written countless papers as well as the best-selling Builder Guides. Fittingly, the Wall Street Journal has described him as "the dean of North American building science." He has a joy for telling tall tales to his protégés and audiences. Dr. Lstiburek holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering, a Master of Engineering in Civil Engineering, and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Building Science. While still an undergrad, Dr. Lstiburek worked as a residential construction manager; during his Master’s degree, he developed the Air Drywall Approach to air barriers. Other formative experiences include working on the Canada-wide Super Energy Efficient Housing R-2000 program and serving as senior engineer on commercial construction projects for Trow in Toronto. Dr. Lstiburek founded BSC in 1990 with his business partner Betsy Pettit, and he has been a key figure in establishing BSC as one of the most influential, innovative, and respected building science firms in North America.


Christine Williamson
Senior Associate, Building Science Corporation

Christine Williamson works with developers, contractors, and architects to mitigate the risk of technical failures in new construction.  Ms. Williamson’s practice includes both commercial and residential design throughout North America, including the Canadian Arctic and the Caribbean.  She reviews drawings and makes recommendations that promote appropriate water control, air control, energy efficiency, constructability, and durability.  For clients with a portfolio of upcoming projects, she assists in developing design standards commensurate with their tolerance for risk.  During the construction phase, Ms. Williamson reviews work in progress and addresses conditions or changes in sequence or scope that were not anticipated during the design phase.
In existing buildings Ms. Williamson investigates failures related to the design of the building enclosure and mechanical systems as well as material and installation defects. Failures include leaks, corrosion, rot, mold, odors, poor indoor air quality, and discomfort due to poor temperature or humidity control.  Ms. Williamson’s experience in new construction and attendant understanding of the division of labor among the trades, and typical sequencing and construction practices inform not just her analysis in forensic cases, but also her repair and retrofit recommendations, which, whenever possible, are designed to minimize disruption in occupied buildings.
Ms. Williamson has extensive experience in both the design and installation of below-grade water control systems for projects as diverse as an underground particle accelerator constructed partially underneath an existing hospital, a utility tunnel between two buildings, and a lakeside private residence with an underground basketball court. She also performs hygrothermal modeling (using WUFI), particularly of atypical building assemblies, for both new construction and to illustrate failure mechanisms in forensic cases.  
Ms. Williamson is Co-Chair and a voting member of ASHRAE Technical Committee 1.12, Moisture Management in Buildings, and a member of the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA). 
Ms. Williamson received her Bachelor of Arts from Princeton University and her Master of Architecture from NewSchool of Architecture + Design.


Matt Risinger

I’ve been a builder for almost 20 years and have been blogging about my passions of Building Science & Fine Craftsmanship since 2008. Here’s my quick story; I was a huge fan of the PBS show “This Old House” growing up in Pittsburgh, PA
I started learning about construction by working summers at an inner-city ministry that fixed up row houses for elderly people who owned their homes but couldn’t afford to maintain them. I got a BS in Industrial Management from Grove City College and wanted to work for Toyota as I was fascinated with all things from Japan. I ended up working for one of the National Production Builders (NVR Ryan Homes) after college where I met my Texan wife in Washington DC. My 7 years with that mega builder was really fun, but it didn’t satisfy my desire for “Craftsmanship” as I was building insanely fast houses.  I moved to Portland, OR in 2002 and it was the national mold crisis that lead me to the path of Building Science.  I wanted to learn why these houses were failing and learning everything about the science behind construction has been a passion ever since.
My wife and I moved to Austin, TX in 2005 and I finally started my own building company working exclusively with Architects. My small company has grown to 27 people and I’ve become nationally known for my expertise in Building Science for our Hot/Humid climate. My blog started out of a frustration with the void of good building science and best practice methods for the Hot/Humid South, and partly to satisfy my childhood dream of hosting “This Old House”. I’ve written several articles for Fine Homebuilding & The Journal of Light Construction, and my blog is now seen on those websites as well as Custom Home Magazine. I also have a growing following on my YouTube channel and I post 2 new videos per week.

About BEC: Austin

BEC (Building Enclosure Council): Austin is an interdisciplinary organization that promotes the exchange of information on building enclosures and related science specific to the climate of Central Texas.
Learn More