Pamela Cabrera: Moisture and Mold Risks

Pamela is currently a climate engineer at Transsolar.
Her research centers on building science and new material assemblies for passive climate control systems. Her professional experience has alternated between New York and Lima, where she co-ran the studio CE AD for three years. She is a partner at the Peruvian NGO Construye Identidad, where she contributes with research to the development of vernacular building and materials. She has a BArch from The Cooper Union and a Master’s in Design Studies in Energy & Environment from Harvard GSD, where she received the Daniel L. Schodek Award for Technology and Sustainability.

Abstract for Pamela’s Research Work
Uncovering Future Mold Risks in Existing Residential Walls with Climate Change
Pamela. L. Cabrera , Holly W. Samuelson
Harvard University, Graduate School of Design, Cambridge, MA, USA

“This paper exposes the vulnerability of prevalent, wood framed residential envelopes to mold growth in predicted future weather, a topic that is yet to be explored in scientific literature. In the U.S. and elsewhere, residential exterior walls have followed a tradition of layered construction, including interior insulation to mitigate heat loss and vapor membranes to control moisture. These building assemblies, and their defining codes, have been designed for a narrow definition of historical climate which may be ill suited for future conditions. We combine state of the art hygrothermal simulation and mold growth computation with morphed future weather data to analyze 60 prevalent code compliant walls in three U.S. cities: New York City, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. Our results show an imminent problem in all tested wall types indicating future mold prevalence. The work serves as a framework for considering future hygrothermal risks in building envelopes and demonstrates the widespread need for further work on building resilience.”
Conference Paper PDF available: > here