Zero/Six Consulting, LLC is a multifaceted professional services company specializing in the commissioning of high-performance buildings.

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  /  News & Media   /  How Mockup Performance Testing Closes The Performance Gap Between Design and Real-World Use

How Mockup Performance Testing Closes The Performance Gap Between Design and Real-World Use

When Boeing or Lockheed decides to build a new $100 million aircraft design, they don’t just put it into production as soon as the plans are ready. Engineering and construction teams use mockup performance testing to challenge preconceived plans that may or may not have been attempted before, to identify root-cause factors, and provide recommendations to reduce risk and save costs. Mockup performance testing creates simulations and models to check system performance before manufacturing in order to ensure it meets project specifications.

We use the same theory to create effective building designs that aid in the procurement and construction of a building. Our proven process requires constructing an accurate, sometimes full-sized representation for one specific area that models an exterior wall or roof assembly. The model can then be used as a reference point when creating plans/designs with different custom features to evaluate functionality, assess aesthetics, determine compliance with project documents, and enhance quality.

Let’s dive in and take a closer look at mockup performance tests.

Why Do You Need A Mockup Performance Test and How Is It Done?

Testing allows verification or improvement of the construction details before the structures are fully scaled. If the mockup fails, we can assess elements relative to the built condition and improve the design. Providing real-world data and feedback lets us know if performance expectations or aesthetics can be met and provides details related to constructability sequencing. It assures mistakes made during the mock-up phase are not repeated during actual construction. Discovering issues at that stage also makes it less complex and expensive to repair than if the problems had been detected after the building had been fully constructed.

The desired outcome from the evaluation is to use a proven assembly or system and replicate its installation into the building.  Transferring it to the job site ensures that the building owner gets a safer, better-designed building and the construction team’s job is made more manageable.

There are Several Types and Categories of Performance Tests

We perform testing for every building type, from offices to data centers, hospitals to mission-critical applications. Some examples include:

  • Thermal comfort analysis
  • Air/water temperature and humidity
  • Airtightness tests
  • Heat load simulation (small load, occupancy, solar load)
  • Wind, static, and dynamic water permeability
  • Structural performance against high-force winds
  • Thermal cycling
  • Condensation resistance

The type and quantity of mock-ups you need will depend on the building’s function, envelope performance requirements, design complexity/uniqueness, budgetary constraints, as well as its life cycle expectancy in your climate. We generally recommend that the greater the performance expectation of the building or complexity of the detailing, the more diligent the pre-construction phase will need to be, and therefore the more thorough the mock-up requirements.

There are four primary categories of mockups to consider:

  • Stand-alone Mock-ups are built and tested at the building site and are free-standing structures separate from the building itself.
  • Integrated Mock-ups are designed and constructed directly onto the building structure and may be incorporated into the final construction.
  • Off-site Laboratory Mock-ups are a full-scale construction examined and tested in a controlled laboratory setting. Link article to rellis laboratory.
  • Detail or Mini-Mock-ups are miniaturized versions of the build-out and are used to review details that may not be included as a part of other mock-ups.

Typically a combination of these evaluations is specified to receive the maximum benefit from this phase of the commission process.