Air Barriers, The Lost Chapter: Understanding The Requirements And Evaluation Of Air Barrier Performance In Codes And Standards

Track 1: Design Sessions

Wednesday, May 9, 10:00 – 11:30

The paper will explore the air barrier requirements in Model building codes and standards referenced in the US and Canada, address misconceptions, and will work to outline a framework for a path forward to improve these documents. Beginning with a brief history of air barriers in model codes and standards, we will review the requirements of the 2018 IECC and the 90.1‐2016 as well as changes from their
earlier versions.

The focus will be on the language, use, and impacts of sections covering:

  • Air barrier definition
  • Air barrier design and installation
  • Air barrier testing
  • Air barrier modeling
  • Air barrier impact by climate zone

This foundation of understanding will move is to exploring a series of questions:

  • What are the next steps in these activities of defining the minimum air barrier ‐ 0.40/0.30/0.25/0.15/0.10? Case studies?
  • Is mandatory whole building air testing on the horizon?
  • Should requirements for air barriers per climate zone vary?
  • What is the supporting analysis needed to move the codes and standards to the next level?
  • Is the a point of diminishing return based on the analysis construct in code?

The current data shows buildings designed today with an air barrier and following the intent of the codes and standards should have the components and design to achieve 0.30 when installed with the standard of care. What is the cost of asking people to take care in their work in design and construction? Are we appropriately capturing the impact of air leakage of our buildings in the modeling analysis to support the economic justifications? Does the air leakage calculation impede our ability to make an economic justification?

  • Infiltration schedules?
  • Latent energy from infiltration?
  • Fan power required for exfiltration?
  • First cost changes based on downsizing equipment, ductwork, etc?

Learning Objectives:

  1. Participants will be able to describe the various model code and standard requirements for air barriers in North America.
  2. Participants will be able to describe the various protocols for compliance for materials, assemblies, and whole buildings and how these differ between codes.
  3. Participants will be able to discuss the future possibilities for code and standard development for air barriers.
  4. Participants will be able to discuss the economic justification standards in code and standard development and the impact and limitations on the analysis of air barriers.
Level of content:
Construction & Testing

Keith P. Nelson, AIA

Chief Architect

Keith brings over 16 years providing critical evaluation of design details and field review of new and existing building enclosure projects. He has been involved in a broad range of projects throughout North America with services including enclosure evaluation, detailing, design and product submittal review, construction phase observation and evaluation, below-grade waterproofing investigation, testing and repair, and building code analysis.

Adam Ugliuzza, P.E., CPHC, ABAA Board Member

Senior Project Engineer

Mr. Ugliuzza brings 7 years of experience as an engineer. His work with previous firms focused on structural design and inspection on, which has brought a new perspective to ATI projects. Since his inception on into building sciences group at ATI, his responsibilities have included on-site functional performance testing including whole building air testing, façade and architectural investigations, infrared thermography inspections, developing conceptual repair drawings, peer review of preconstruction and construction on drawings, field observations on services and quality control inspection on services.

Matthew Setzekorn, PE, BEMP, CBCP,  LEED AP, Principal

Emerald Built Environments

Mr. Setzekorn is a licensed Professional Engineer with over fifteen years’ experience in the construction, design/engineering and commissioning of mechanical and plumbing systems that include central systems, geo thermal, and stand-alone systems.  He has held positions as President, Vice President, Principal, and Senior Project Engineer.  Mr. Setzekorn has experience in all phases of construction and engineering that include system analysis and design, preparation of construction documents and specifications, field supervision, construction administration and commissioning for a wide range of new and renovation projects in commercial, healthcare, retail, educational, institutional, hospitality, and industrial type projects.