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The Air-Barrier Age: Building Codes Drive Airtightness Imperative

A D+D Online Feature published June 4, 2012



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by Walter Scarborough

The debate over air barriers is over. There’s no argument: airtightness is essential to high-performance building enclosures, and air barriers fulfill this critical function....
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Tagged categories: Air barriers; Building envelope; Hall Building Information Group; Walter Scarborough

Comment from Chris Murphy, (6/5/2012, 9:07 AM)

I simply don't agree that the debate is over.....at least for people who don't want to live in petrochemical plastic bubbles that depend on electro-mechanical ventilation. Indoor Air Quality has plummeted since the turn of the 20th century when the design criteria for airchange was 30 cfm per person. Now the design community wants to tell us 7.5 is adequate. Asthma, allergy and chemical sensitivity is at an all time high because of sick building syndrome.... aka plastic building syndrome. What is wrong with simply using a combination of insulation and thermal mass like most of the world uses,,,, and lives comfortably with 1/4 the energy use.


Comment from marc chavez, (6/6/2012, 12:02 PM)

Chris, having asthma I agree and dis-agree with you. The air barrier debate IS over - we need them. You are talking about Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) and this is a major concern but a different concern. IAQ is not a reason to have a building that lets all the conditioned air out and all the unconditioned air in. We DO need tight buildings AND we need to watch IAQ like a hawk. Interior finishes and building techniques need to be examined for the chemicals they introduce into the building.


Comment from Joseph Berchenko, (6/8/2012, 9:32 AM)

Vapor barriers are needed in hot, humid climates on the outside to prevent condensation from occuring at the dew point line within exterior wall insulation.


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