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2010 Air Barrier Challenge

The BSA Building Enclosure Council and Architectural Testing (ATI) co-sponsored the 2010 Air Barrier Challenge. Nine teams of practicing architects, construction professionals, tradespeople and students convened at ATI's Chelmsford lab on May 15th to assemble air barrier system mockups for the purpose of seeing who designed and constructed the best-performing air-and-water barrier system. On May 22nd, each team's mockup was subsequently performance-tested according to ASTM E 783 and ASTM E 1105 at the IAS and AAMA-accredited ATI facility following ATI's Education Symposium and Open House to evaluate each team's efforts and determine the winning team(s).

The design challenge afforded an opportunity for technology exchange related to air-barrier construction and testing and gave each participant the opportunity to actually work with the chosen materials. To simulate the conditions, each team was provided an 8' by 8' panel, an aluminum window, and the materials to assemble a complete air barrier system. All materials were donated by various manufacturers or provided directly by the product representatives of the various systems.

A worthy thanks goes to all who participated, including ATI, who was so generous to provide the facilities, and staff, and to The Air Barrier Association of America for providing the food to the hard-working teams.

NIST Investigation Report

NIST Investigation of the Impact of Commercial Building Envelope Airtightness on HVAC Energy Use.

This report presents a simulation study of the energy impact of improving envelope airtightness in U.S. commercial buildings. Despite common assumptions, measurements have shown that typical U.S. commercial buildings are not particularly airtight. Past simulation studies have shown that commercial building envelope leakage can result in significant heating and cooling loads. To evaluate the potential energy savings of an effective air barrier requirement, annual energy simulations were prepared for three nonresidential buildings (a two-story office building, a one-story retail building, and a four-story apartment building) in 5 U.S. cities. A coupled multizone airflow and building energy simulation tool was used to predict the energy use for the buildings at a target tightness level relative to a baseline level based on measurements in existing buildings. Based on assumed blended national average heating and cooling energy prices, predicted potential annual heating and cooling energy cost savings ranged from 3 % to 36 % with the smallest savings occurring in the cooling-dominated climates of Phoenix and Miami. In order to put these estimated energy savings in context, a cost effectiveness calculation was performed using the scalar ratio methodology employed by ASHRAE SSPC 90.1.

ARCOM Air Barrier Spec Drafts

Three new MASTERSPEC Sections have been introduced: Section 07271 - Self-Adhering Sheet Air Barriers, Section 07272 - Fluid-Applied Membrane Air Barriers, and a common Evaluations Section 07270 - Air Barriers. These Sections have been developed with the help of the members of the Air Barrier Association of America and with the guidance of Wagdy Anis, AIA, Shepley Bulfinch Richardson & Abbott, in Boston, Massachusetts. Read more in Air Barriers by by Paul Brosnahan, AIA, CSI, CCS ARCOM Director of Architectural Specifications.

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Recommended publications on Building Enclosure

Download the BEC Bibliography as PDF.