Air-barrier suppliers who want their industry’s stamp of approval on their systems now have a new testing hurdle to clear.
The Air Barrier Association of America (ABAA) now requires that manufacturers provide evidence that an assembly has passed ASTM E2357 testing by an accredited laboratory before ABAA will designate it as an Evaluated Air Barrier Assembly.
Grace Construction Products
|Air-barrier assembly testing is required to be considered an “evaluated material” by the Air Barrier Association of America (ABAA).|
The standard tests air-barrier assemblies for air leakage.
“This testing method is a major benefit to the design professional as issues such as air sealing and installation methods are dealt with by the manufacturer and proven in a controlled environment, rather than the design professional using a trial and error method in the field,” according to ABAA.
The ABAA defines an air-barrier assembly as one that has an air leakage rate less than 0.2 L/(s•m2) @ 75 Pa (0.04 cfm/ft2 @ 1.57 lb/ft2).
Self-adhered sheet air barriers, liquid-applied membranes, medium-density sprayed polyurethane foam, commercial building wraps and similar materials, as well as their accessories (sealants, tapes and transition membranes), make up the “continuous barrier to air infiltration” known as an air-barrier assembly.
When installed proficiently, the air-barrier assembly benefits the life cycle of a building, according to the ABAA.
Preventing air leakage can generate energy savings of up to 36%, according to various reports. (A multiyear project now underway at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory aims to better quantify the systems’ energy-efficiency gains.)
Though only several years old, ASTM E2357 has already proved to be an effective holistic evaluation of real-world performance, experts say.
The method is intended to simulate the performance of various air barrier materials and accessories when combined into an assembly. Based upon the results of the measurements, this procedure then assigns an air leakage rating for the air barrier assembly.
“Air-barrier products have abounded on the marketplace in recent years, as the industry has embraced a new understanding in building construction, which itself is a rare occurrence,” said Lance E. Robson Jr., AIA, of Building Envelope Technologies Inc., and a key contributor to developing ASTM E2357.
“By providing test results utilizing ASTM E2357, a product manufacturer can demonstrate the sufficiency of their materials when combined into an assembly that will work with the whole building system. This enables all interested parties to make informed decisions with assurance for the building’s design and sustainability.”
In addition to the test report, suppliers are also required to provide ABAA with information on the materials (master spec and/or installation instructions), and accessories and their sequencing around the components (window and services elements) and other sources of potential air leakage to be approved by the organization.
ABAA said that manufacturers must also note the level of skill required to assemble the various materials.
The assemblies that have received the “evaluated material” stamp of approval from the ABAA are listed here. They include systems from BASF Corp., Dryvit Systems Inc., Grace Construction, Soprema Inc., Henry Company, and W.R. Meadows Inc.
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