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…