Laboratory tests and computer-based modeling are indispensable tools – but real-world data is also critical. For that reason, Building Science Laboratories recommends and conducts both controlled lab studies and field research, striving at all times to achieve a balance between the certainty of experimental control and the usability of knowledge gained under real-world conditions. Both our laboratory and field research are also informed by hands-on experience as consultants.

Performance Measurement Spectrum


We maintain field exposure facilities for smaller test specimens in Waterloo, Ontario and Vancouver, British Columbia. We have constructed, instrumented, and supported clients’ private facilities in various locations across North America.


Field Rack Tests. A field rack consists of a frame and a test assembly or set of sub-assemblies. Racks are a simple, efficient way to measure performance under normal environmental conditions. Sample projects using this method include:

  • Taped sheathing tests to demonstrate the durability of taped seams on exterior insulation used as a rain control layer.
  • Deflection testing of insulating sheathing to assess the impact of solar radiation and other environmental factors.

Field Exposure Facilities. These facilities expose test wall assemblies to real weather in real time and (unlike a finished building) can be tested to failure. For a detailed example, see the Vancouver Test Hut Special Project. Strengths of this method include:

  • Numerous and diverse specimens can be monitored side-by-side
  • Interior conditions can be controlled and monitored
  • Artificial wetting and other loadings can be imposed according to research needs

Relocatable Test Huts. These huts are similar to long-term field exposure facilities, but are designed to be moved between tests. This allows the same hut to be used for tests in multiple climate zones. Our prototype Relocatable Building Enclosure Test Station (RBETS) was built from a modified 40-foot ISO shipping container and could test up to 16 wall panels (4’x8’) at one time. Customized relocatable test huts can be constructed to meet specific research needs and can be shipped to locations across North America.


Instrumentation and Custom Sensor Fabrication. In addition to constructing whole facilities and test racks, we often support research programs by assisting with instrumentation or custom sensor fabrication. Instrumentation of an existing or planned research structure can include installation, calibration, and/or staff training for a wide range of sensors and data loggers. For more information, please see the Building Science Labs Store.

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