Building Systems for Interior Designers

Building Systems for Interior Designers

The first edition of Building Systems for Interior Environments arose from my need for a textbook to use in teaching interior design students that gave them the understanding and skills to work with architects and engineers.

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The first edition of Building Systems for Interior Environments arose from my need for a textbook to use in teaching interior design students that gave them the understanding and skills to work with architects and engineers. This third edition of Building Systems for Interior Environments updates the role of interior designers as part of the building design team, and addresses their special needs for information on today’s building system design and equipment.

Interior designers today work closely with other design and construction professions to provide functional, sustainable, and healthy buildings. Sophisticated digital control systems permit design that supports varied occupancy and work styles and schedules. This results in more individualized control of the interior environment, which is conducive to worker satisfaction and productivity.

Sustainable design supports a holistic approach to building systems, where the older territorial distinctions between the various building system and architectural/engineering disciplines are opening up. Existing buildings are being adapted and reused for new purposes. The impact of energy efficiency and water conservation in buildings is widely recognized. This third edition of Building Systems for Interior Environments reflects these changes.

In addition, the third edition benefits from the comments of experienced educators as to the best ways to organize and focus the information. The updated contents are arranged to flow smoothly in an order that facilitates the teaching process. Part I looks at environmental conditions and the site, the building envelope and the building design process, sustainable design, the interaction of the human body with the built environment, and how building codes protect us. Part II addresses building forms, structures, and elements including floor/ceiling assemblies, walls, stairs, windows, and doors. Part III introduces acoustic design principles and architectural acoustics. Part IV addresses water supply, waste, and reuse systems, as well as plumbing fixtures and appliances.

Part V covers principles of thermal control, indoor air quality, ventilation, and moisture control, and heating and cooling. Part VI explains electrical system basics and electrical distribution, as well as lighting systems. Part VII concludes the book with coverage of fire safety design, conveyance systems, and communications, security, and control equipment.

More than 40 percent of the third edition’s text is new. This edition contains over 485 illustrations, approximately 260 of which are new and 160 redrawn or revised. There are also over 175 tables, 125 of which are new or significantly revised. References to related materials in other chapters are included. Tips indicating material of assistance and interest to interior designers are also included. Key terms are defined in the text and indicated in bold. Quotations from architectural and engineering sources aid in understanding the perspective of other design professionals.

Interior designers need to understand the viewpoints and respect the expertise of other design professionals. Building Systems for Interior Designers provides the information they need to do this, without delving into engineering calculations. It focuses on the parts of the building design process that most affect the occupants’ functional needs, and provides a technical but readily understandable foundation for the design of interior spaces. Residential as well as commercial and institutional spaces are included.

Building Systems for Interior Designers is listed by the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) as a reference for preparation for the NCIDQ exam. The third edition is supplemented by online materials including an Instructors Manual with knowledge areas, topics for discussion, and definitions of key terms, PowerPoint presentations for each chapter, and a Test Bank with sample questions. Supplemental material is available at


The authorship of a book involves a great amount of solitary work and persistence. Turning the manuscript and illustrations into a published book involves the efforts of many others. I have nown published seven books—plus second and third editions of some of them—with the team at John Wiley & Sons, and I want to thank them once again for their professionalism, support, and good advice. I especially want to thank my editors, Paul Drougas, Lauren Poplowski, and Seth Schwartz, their able assistants Michael New and Melinda Noack, and production editor Amy Odum. The feedback of my colleagues and students is invaluable in assuring that this edition meets their needs. I especially benefitted from the review team of Dr. Jane L. Nichols, IDEC, NCIDQ, High Point University; Ji Young Cho, LEED AP, Kent State University; and Brian Sweny, AIA, IIDA, LEED AP, IDEC, SEED, Savannah College of Art and Design. As is the case with all my books, I am indebted to my husband, Keith Kirkpatrick, for his support and assistance. He puts up with my obsessive focus, makes sure I am properly fed, and gives solid advice when I’m struggling with a decision. Keith also reviewed and commented on all of the illustrations. Thank you, Keith!

Part I

The Building, the Environment, and Health and Safety

Interior designers today work closely with other design and construction professionals to provide functional, sustainable, and healthy buildings. Sustainable design is supporting a holistic approach to building systems, and older territorial distinctions between various architectural and engineering disciplines are opening up. Existing buildings are valued for the materials and energy they embody, and many projects involve the renovation of building interiors.

Interior designers are increasingly working as part of environmentally aware design teams. Sustainable design involves interior designers observing the impact of a building’s site, climate, and geography on its interior spaces. Building interior are increasingly open to natural settings and views, and the interior designer’s work may bridge interior and exterior spaces. Wise energy use dictates awareness of how sun, wind, and heat or cold affect the building’s interior.

While focusing on building elements that affect interior designers, Building Systems for Interior Designers, Third Edition addresses this multidisciplinary approach to building design. We begin our study of building systems in Part I by looking at the relationships among the environment, the building, and human health and safety.

Chapter 1, “Environmental Conditions and the Site,” looks at climate change, energy sources and consumption, and how site conditions affect building design.

Chapter 2, “Designing for the Environment,” investigates the building envelope and the role of insulation in heat flow. Energy efficient design, the building design process, and sustainable design are introduced.

Chapter 3, “Designing for Human Health and Safety,” addresses the interaction of the human body with the built environment and how building codes protect us.


Part I The Building, the Environment, and Health and Safety

Chapter 1 Environmental Conditions and the Site
  • Introduction
  • Climate Change
  • Energy Sources
  • Electricity
  • Renewable Energy Sources
  • Non-Sustainable Energy Sources
  • Global Climate Change
  • Energy Consumption by Buildings
  • Building Site Conditions
  • Building Placement
  • Climates
  • Site Conditions
  • Interior Layout
  • Existing Buildings
Chapter 2 Designing for the Environment
  • Introduction
  • Building Envelope
  • History
  • Dynamic Building Envelope
  • Building Envelope and Codes
  • Exterior Walls
  • Roofs
  • Heat Flow and the Building Envelope
  • Terminology
  • Thermodynamics
  • Heat Flow and Building Envelope
  • Moisture Flow through Building Envelope
  • Envelope Thermal Performance
  • Insulation Materials
  • Air Films and Air Spaces
  • Insulation Types and Forms
  • Energy-Efficient Design
  • Passive Systems
  • Active Solar and Hybrid Systems
  • The Design Process
  • The Design Team
  • Integrated Design
  • Sustainable Design
  • Energy Efficiency and Conservation
  • Sustainability and Green Design
  • Energy and Materials
  • Setting Sustainability Goals
  • Sustainable Design Strategies
  • LEED System
  • High Performance Buildings
Chapter 3 Designing for Human Health and Safety
  • Introduction
  • Human Body and the Built Environment
  • Maintaining Thermal Equilibrium
  • Visual and Acoustic Comfort
  • Other Human Environmental Requirements
  • Hazardous Materials
  • Renovation Considerations
  • Lead
  • Asbestos
  • Mold
  • Building Codes and Standards
  • Building Codes
  • Standards and Organizations
  • Federal Codes and Regulations
  • Energy Efficiency Requirements

Part II Building Components

Chapter 4 Building Forms, Structures, and Elements
  • Introduction
  • History
  • Building Form
  • Structural System
  • Foundations
  • Building Loads
  • Types of Building Loads
  • Compression, Deflection, and Tension
  • Spanning Openings
  • Vertical Supports
  • Lateral Forces
  • Shearing Forces
  • Grid Frameworks
  • Service Cores
  • Structural Types
  • Light Frame Structures
  • Post-and-Beam and Heavy Timber
  • Masonry Structures
  • Concrete Structures
  • Metal Structures
  • Other Structural Types
Chapter 5 Floor/Ceiling Assemblies, Walls, and Stairs
  • Introduction
  • Horizontal Structural Units
  • Floor/Ceiling Assemblies
  • Interior Design Concerns
  • Floor Systems
  • Wall Systems
  • Load-Bearing Walls and Frames
  • Interior Walls and Partitions
  • Stairs and Ramps
  • Stairs
  • Ramps
Chapter 6 Windows and Doors
  • Introduction
  • History
  • Windows
  • Window Selection
  • Window Types
  • Glazing
  • Window Frames
  • Storm Windows and Screens
  • Thermal Transmission
  • Shading and Solar Control
  • Toplighting and Skylights
  • Toplighting
  • Doors
  • Thermal Performance
  • Exterior Doors
  • Interior Doors
  • Door Types
  • Fire Doors
  • Door Hardware

Part III Acoustics

Chapter 7 Acoustic Design Principles
  • Introduction
  • Sound Basics
  • Sound Propagation
  • Sound Waves
  • Frequency
  • Sound Magnitude
  • Hearing
  • Human Ear
  • Loudness
  • Sound Masking
  • Directivity and Discrimination
  • Sound Sources
  • Speech
  • Music
  • Noise
  • Vibration
  • Sound Paths
  • Attenuation
  • Reflected Sound
  • Natural Sound Reinforcement
  • Absorbed Sound
Chapter 8 Architectural Acoustics
  • Introduction
  • History
  • Acoustic Codes and Standards
  • Acoustic Design
  • Design Process
  • Room Acoustics
  • Building Noise Control
  • Controlling Exterior Noise
  • Controlling Interior Noise
  • Background Noise
  • Sound Transmission
  • Airborne and Structure-Borne Sound
  • Measuring Sound Transmission
  • Sound Absorption
  • Reducing Acoustic Energy
  • Measuring Sound Absorption
  • Reverberation
  • Sound Isolation
  • Mass
  • Resiliency
  • Tightness
  • Compound Barriers
  • Floor/Ceiling Assemblies
  • Special Acoustic Devices
  • Sound Transmission Between Spaces
  • Walls and Partitions
  • Flanking Paths
  • Impact Noise
  • Materials and Acoustics
  • Acoustic Products
  • Ceiling Products
  • Wall Panels
  • Flooring
  • Window Treatments and Upholstery
  • Acoustic Applications
  • Acoustic Criteria
  • Offices
  • Music Performance Spaces
  • Auditoriums
  • Lecture Rooms
  • Schools
  • Public Toilet Rooms
  • Residential Buildings
  • Electronic Sound Systems
  • Sound Reinforcement Systems
  • Sound Systems for Specific Spaces

Part IV Water and Waste Systems

Chapter 9 Water Supply Systems
  • Introduction
  • History
  • Codes and Testing
  • Plumbing and Construction Drawings
  • Water Sources and Use
  • Water Use
  • Hydrologic Cycle
  • Precipitation
  • Surface Water, Groundwater, and Stormwater
  • Conservation
  • Protecting the Water Supply
  • Water Distribution
  • Well Water
  • Municipal Water Supply Systems
  • Water Quality
  • Distribution within Buildings
  • Hot Water
  • Hot Water Heaters
  • Chilled Water
  • Gas Supply and Distribution
Chapter 10 Waste and Reuse Systems
  • Introduction
  • History
  • Sanitary Waste Systems
  • Sanitary Piping Elements
  • Residential Waste Piping
  • Large Building Waste Piping
  • Treating and Recycling Wastewater
  • Recycled Water
  • Rural Sewage Treatment
  • Centralized Sewage Treatment Systems
  • Solid Waste Systems
  • Recycling
  • Small Building Solid Waste Collection
  • Large Building Solid Waste Collection
Chapter 11 Fixtures and Appliances
  • Introduction
  • History of Bathrooms
  • Plumbing Fixtures
  • General Code Requirements
  • Bathroom Fixtures
  • Water Closets
  • Urinals
  • Bidets
  • Lavatories and Sinks
  • Bathtubs
  • Showers
  • Steam Rooms and Saunas
  • Residential Bathroom Design
  • Bathroom Design History
  • Bathroom Planning
  • Designing Public Toilet Rooms
  • Toilet Room Accessibility
  • Drinking Fountains
  • Appliances and Equipment
  • Residential Kitchens
  • Residential Appliances
  • Laundry Areas
  • Compressed Air

Part V Heating, Cooling, and Ventilation Systems

Chapter 12 Principles of Thermal Comfort
  • Introduction
  • History
  • Thermal Comfort
  • Designing for Thermal Comfort
  • Comfort Range
  • Principles of Heat Transfer
  • Thermal Energy Transfer
  • Air Temperature and Air Motion
  • Water Vapor and Heat Transfer
  • Thermal Capacity and Resistance
  • Thermal Mass
  • Thermal Conductivity
  • Thermal Resistance
  • Thermal Feel
  • Mechanical Engineering Design Process
  • Phases of Design Process
  • Thermal Comfort Zones
  • Heating and Cooling Loads
Chapter 13 Indoor Air Quality, Ventilation, and Moisture Control
  • Introduction
  • ASHRAE Standards and LEED
  • Indoor Air Quality
  • Illnesses Related to Buildings
  • Sources of Pollution
  • Indoor Air Quality Equipment
  • Plants and Indoor Air Quality
  • Controls for Indoor Air Quality
  • Infiltration and Ventilation
  • Infiltration
  • Ventilation
  • Natural Ventilation
  • Attic and Roof Ventilation
  • Mechanical Ventilation
  • Residential Ventilation Systems
  • Fans
  • Humidity and Moisture Control
  • Water Movement
  • Humidity
  • Condensation
  • Dehumidification
  • Chapter
  • Heating and Cooling
  • Introduction
  • Architectural and Engineering Considerations
  • HVAC Design Process
  • History
  • Building Energy Conservation
  • Codes and Standards
  • Heating Systems
  • Central Heating Systems
  • Building Heating Fuels
  • Solar Space Heating
  • Fireplaces and Wood-Burning Stoves
  • Mechanical Heating Systems
  • Radiant Heating
  • Electric-Resistance Heat
  • Natural Convection Heating Units
  • Warm-Air Heating
  • Cooling Systems
  • History of Cooling
  • Passive Cooling
  • Mechanical Cooling
  • Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Systems
  • HVAC Zones
  • HVAC System Components
  • HVAC Distribution
  • Terminal Delivery Devices
  • Control Systems

Part VI Electrical and Lighting Systems

Chapter 15 Electrical System Basics
  • Introduction
  • History
  • Electrical System Design Process
  • Codes and Standards
  • Principles of Electricity
  • Types of Electricity
  • Electrical Current
  • Electrical Power Sources
  • Photovoltaic (PV) Power
  • Other Electrical Energy Sources
  • Electricity and Safety
  • Electrical Shocks
  • Grounding
  • Electrical Fire Safety
  • Circuit Protection
Chapter 16 Electrical Distribution
  • Introduction
  • Electrical System Design Procedure
  • Electrical Service Equipment
  • Electrical Power Distribution Systems
  • Interior Distribution
  • Branch Circuits
  • Electrical Wiring and Distribution
  • Interior Wiring Systems
  • Full Access Floors and Wiring
  • Low-Voltage Wiring
  • Power Line Carrier Systems
  • Electrical Emergency Systems
  • Wireless Systems
  • Electrical Design for Residences
  • Residential Code Requirements
  • Residential Branch Circuits
  • Wiring Devices
  • Outlet and Device Boxes
  • Electrical Plugs
  • Electrical Receptacles
  • Switches
  • Electrical Loads
  • Residential Appliances
  • Appliance Control and Energy Conservation
Chapter 17 Lighting Systems
  • Introduction
  • History of Lighting
  • Lighting Design Team
  • Lighting Calculation Methods
  • Lighting Design Process
  • Lighting Codes and Standards
  • Light and Vision
  • Physics of Light
  • Vision
  • Color and Light
  • Quantity of Light
  • Glare
  • Lighting Effects
  • Daylighting
  • History of Daylighting
  • Characteristics of Daylight
  • Daylighting Design
  • Daylighting and Fenestration
  • Electric Lighting
  • History of Electric Lighting
  • Electric Lighting Design
  • Electric Light Sources
  • Characteristics of Sources
  • Selecting Light Sources
  • Luminaire Light Control
  • Light Source Controls
  • Remote Source Lighting
  • Luminaires
  • Characteristics of Lighting Fixtures
  • Lighting Fixture Selection
  • Lighting Controls
  • Tuning and Maintenance
  • Emergency Lighting
  • Lighting Design Applications
  • Residential Applications
  • Commercial Applications

Part VII Fire Safety, Conveyance, Security, and Communications

Chapter 18 Fire Safety Design
  • Introduction
  • History
  • Design for Fire Safety
  • Basic Principles
  • Fire Risk
  • Combustion
  • Fire Safety Codes
  • Construction Types
  • Occupancy Hazard Classifications
  • Means of Egress
  • Building Types
  • Means of Egress Components
  • Protecting the Building
  • Compartmentation
  • Construction Assemblies and Elements
  • Materials and Fire Protection
  • Codes and Standards
  • Finish Classes and Test Ratings
  • Firefighting
  • Smoke Management
  • Fire Detection
  • Residential Detectors
  • Fire Alarm Systems
  • Residential Alarm Systems
  • Commercial and Institutional Systems
  • Alarm System Operation
  • Fire Suppression
  • Sprinkler Systems
  • Other Fire Suppression Systems
  • Portable Fire Extinguishers
Chapter 19 Conveyance Systems
  • Introduction
  • History
  • Codes and Standards
  • Elevators
  • Elevator Design
  • Elevator Machines
  • Passenger Elevators
  • Freight Elevators
  • Service Cars and Special Elevators
  • Elevator Security
  • Elevator Systems
  • Elevator Lobbies
  • Escalators and Moving Walks
  • Escalators
  • Moving Walks and Ramps
  • Materials Handling
  • Dumbwaiters
  • Conveyors
  • Pneumatic Systems
  • Automated Container Delivery Systems
Chapter 20 Communications, Security, and Control Equipment
  • Introduction
  • Signal Systems
  • Communication Systems
  • Residential Communications
  • Office Building Communications
  • School Communication Systems,
  • Data and Communications Wiring
  • Premise Wiring
  • Television
  • Telecommunications
  • Security Systems
  • Security Equipment
  • Control and Automation Equipment
  • Automation
  • Intelligent Buildings
  • Building Controls
  • Bibliography
  • Index

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