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Musings of an Energy Nerd

Bill Rose’s Building Science To-Do List

Rose invites young building scientists to investigate six topics

William Rose, a respected architect, researcher, historian, and author, recently bequeathed his to-do list to the next generation of building scientists.

William Rose is fun to listen to. The author of a landmark book, Water in Buildings, Rose is a research architect at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a widely respected building scientist.

Rose’s speaking style is discursive, meandering, hesitant, and occasionally poetic. He shares historical anecdotes that sometimes seem only remotely relevant to his topic. Eventually, however, he sews together a patchwork quilt with a unified theme.

Rose gave the keynote address, “A Building Science To-Do List,” at a building envelope conference I recently attended in Florida (the Thermal Performance of the Exterior Envelopes of Whole Buildings XIII International Conference). Looking ahead to retirement, Rose was ready to bequeath his list to the younger building scientists in the audience.

“I received a warm invitation from André Desjarlais to speak here,” said Rose. “He said something like, ‘Bill Rose, you’re old.’ It was a liberating and inspiring thing to hear. So I’ve been thinking about the things I wanted to get done in building science. I may not get these things done — I may have to pass these things on to you.”

Studying building corners

The first item on Rose’s list is simple: we need a better understanding of corners. Energy modeling is often one-dimensional — as, for example, when a scientist describes the temperature profile across an insulated wall. Some energy programs are capable of modeling convective loops, and are therefore two-dimensional. But any consideration of building corners requires a three-dimensional approach.

“Corners are some of the most interesting parts of the building,” said Rose. “I did a survey of freeze-thaw damage on brick buildings. Not much damage shows up in the field of the brick except where the brick is…

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  1. JustHousing | | #1

    Thank you and More, Please!
    I wish I had been there for Bill Rose's talk. I hope he gives many more such talks. We are listening! Messages like this help me stay focused and committed - committed to those I honor and to those I pledge to protect.

  2. STEPHEN SHEEHY | | #2

    Great piece, Martin.

  3. Paul Eldrenkamp | | #3

    Bill Rose is a lot more than just fun to listen to
    Bill Rose has more wisdom and integrity than anyone else I have met in my professional life, and perhaps more than anyone else I have met, period. I have never had a moment with him that I did not cherish. If you've never had a chance to talk with him one-on-one, I suggest you do your best to figure out a way to travel to Champaign-Urbana and take him out to lunch or dinner. It will be the best time and money you've spent on educating yourself not only about water in buildings (which almost all building science boils down to) but also about professional integrity and a life well lived.

  4. Marc Rosenbaum | | #4

    A Living National Treasure
    As usual, Paul Eldrenkamp has expressed what I too feel, but better than I could. But I can add one more of Bill's defining characteristics - generosity. He shares what he knows, and the community of practice we all belong to benefits immensely.
    Thank you Bill!

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