The general medicine of the construction industry

Wolfgang Hubner is Managing Director of the institute for flat-roof construction and structural waterproofing (Institut für Flachdachbau und Bauwerksabdichtung). In an interview with the ISOCELLER, he discusses building monitoring, a major topic for the future of the construction industry.

Mr Hubner, you’ve been Managing Director of the institute for flat-roof construction and waterproofing since 2005. How did you establish the network?
Before us, there was no network that specifically dealt with the sealing of roofs or buildings on a technical basis. Due to the considerable damage that often occurs in these areas, we saw potential here and founded an organisation in which many responsible bodies work together, including construction associations within the chamber of commerce, the chamber of architects and engineers, building academies, colleges and technical universities. First and foremost, we try to use training and education to bring dynamism to the technical development of flat-roof construction and structural waterproofing.

As well as being the head of the institute and an expert in this field, you are also considered an expert in a relatively new field — monitoring. Why are you so interested in this innovation?
As with all things, our service also required a development phase. Three years ago, we came to the conclusion that we offer a lot in terms of training. It is also the case that today’s architects are provided with particularly precise calculation methods for building physics. Nevertheless, we have noticed that, despite all the training and planning tools, the damage has simply relocated.

Whereas we used to primarily see damage resulting from flawed execution, we are now increasingly seeing problems that are related to building physics. Until three years ago, we had a status quo in which a building in situ gave us no feedback. While we can prepare and build everything as well as possible, if we do not get feedback over the useful life of a property, a key link in the “potential damage chain” is missing. Monitoring should replace this missing link. I would compare monitoring with the work of a general practitioner. We first want to investigate the fundamentals — then we can call in the specialists, such as a roofer.

What kind of technology is this based on?
We have several different approaches. For example,ISOCELL has one product in its portfolio that measures the moisture conditions in the roof structure via contact lines that are inserted in the roof structure. But there are also other traditional sensors that represent electronic components and measure the relative humidity and temperature. The aim of all measurements must be to ensure that, within defined limits, an assessment of the moisture content in the roof structure is possible. In terms of figures, the end results should ideally be the same, regardless of the manufacturer. The data needs to be comparable as otherwise it cannot be scientifically evaluated.

You can read the whole interview in THE ISOCELLER 04