The Responsible Solutions to Mold Coalition has introduced a series of recommendations of mold and moisture prevention intended specifically for commercial buildings.

Developed by RSMC’s Technical Committee, the Guiding Principles for Mold and Moisture Control – Commercial is posted on the home page of the organization’s Web site at www.responsiblemoldsolutions.org. This informative new section utilizes an interactive format in which visitors can explore various methods of controlling mold and moisture by clicking on the different parts of a typical commercial building. In addition, a complete list of the Guiding Principles can be downloaded for handy reference.

“RSMC is pleased to offer these new recommendations and we’re confident that they will be very useful throughout the construction industry,” said Frank Nunes, RSMC vice chairman and executive director, International Institute for Lath and Plaster and Lath and Plaster Institute of Northern California. “Surveys confirm that mold continues to be a major issue for architects, contractors and building owners, and the Guiding Principles will help construction professionals eliminate potential mold and moisture problems in all types of commercial buildings.”

The Guiding Principles for commercial buildings comprises 30 principles divided into seven different sections. The subjects include Construction/General; Design/Mechanical Issues; Interior Construction; Exterior Construction; Construction/Foundation; Maintenance; and Mold Remediation.

As an example of the many types of valuable information that the recommendations offer, the Construction/General section notes:

  • Keep the building and materials dry
  • Building materials should be protected from the weather before they are installed. They should be covered by a tarp and raised off the ground. In the case of drywall, it should be delivered to the job site close to the time it will be installed.
  • Drywall should not be installed until the building is closed in.
  • Elevator shafts are often exposed to the weather during construction; mold-resistant shaft wall panels and drywall should be installed. If the panels become wet, there should be sufficient time built into the schedule so that they can be dried before the application of joint compound and paint.
  • If the basement traps water, sump pumps should be installed to remove any standing water.
  • Schedule all trades in a manner that minimizes water intrusion
  • All trades on a job site should be aware of steps they can take to keep moisture intrusion to a minimum. In the course of accomplishing their tasks, plumbers, electricians and other trades may penetrate walls and floors – providing a ready path for water to enter the building. Those penetrations should either be sealed or flashed to keep water at bay.
  • Water intrusion can be minimized if various trades are scheduled in a way that they do not create water intrusion opportunities that are not corrected in a timely fashion.
  • A good example of this is scheduling the roofing contractor and the sheathing contractor in a manner that allows the intersection of these two planes to be properly flashed and sealed.
The amount of available information about mold in buildings is simply overwhelming. In fact, an Internet search on the subject yields literally millions of different sources. Consequently, it’s difficult to determine what information is accurate and what is not. In preparing its Guiding Principles, RSMC set out to identify simple, accurate steps that can be taken during the design, construction and maintenance phases of a commercial building to keep moisture – and thereby mold – at bay.

Mold needs three things in order to grow: moisture, a food source and mold spores. Mold spores are ubiquitous in nature as are food sources, so moisture is the one factor that can be controlled. Mold will grow on virtually anything – fiberglass, glass, steel and tile – but not if these materials and their environments are kept dry. Keeping moisture out of a building significantly minimizes the opportunity for mold to grow.

In addition, dry buildings not only prevent mold outbreaks, but foster a more pleasant and healthy environment. They also are more durable and typically have fewer maintenance problems, so controlling moisture truly benefits builders, owners and occupants alike.

The Responsible Solutions to Mold Coalition’s mission is to identify and communicate scientifically accurate information about controlling mold and moisture in buildings and residences. Established in 2006, RSMC’s members include 15 companies, associations, government and academic organizations. The organization is funded by grants from USG Corporation, National Gypsum and American Gypsum.