Air Barrier Systems - online series

January 30, 2010
Publication: Building Design & Construction
Author(s): Sean OBrien Michael B. Waite

As energy resources are diminished, energy costs increase, and the detrimental environmental effects of combustion emissions become more pronounced and better understood, optimizing building energy performance becomes essential to building owners, the global community and the planet itself. The building design and construction industry is becoming more aware of the effect of the building enclosure on energy use, particularly with the increasing prominence of green building rating systems, such as LEED, higher stringency in energy efficiency standards, such as ASHRAE 90.1, and stricter enforcement of building energy codes. However, with only a few exceptions, rating systems, standards and codes in the United States all but ignore air barriers. And, despite numerous studies and extensive analysis showing the benefits of air barriers, and many architects and engineers espousing the advantages of reducing air leakage, the industry has been slow to adopt air leakage control as a priority, producing buildings with admirable intentions, but marginal performance.