Exterior Wall Air Barriers: Selection, Trends, Challenges, and Quality Control

Track 1

Tuesday, May 2, 2:15 pm – 3:15 pm

Everyone wants to avoid expensive and time-consuming air barrier repairs, so special attention to air barriers at the front end of a project is paramount. An overclad, to control air movement in an exterior wall assembly for just a two-story office building, can be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Air barriers are, by nature, hard to repair due to their integration within the wall assembly and the care it takes to design and build an exterior wall that will control not just air, but water, water vapor, and heat.  This presentation will review code requirements and air barrier options, share observed trends in the industry, and highlight common mistakes in the design and construction of air barrier systems on buildings to provide the listener foresight when dealing with air barriers. With extensive learned knowledge from our 66 years of experience working with clients to investigate air leakage issues and  provide building science consulting for the design of exterior enclosures, we provide recommended approaches for the design and testing of air barrier products and systems that will help stakeholders avoid problems with air infiltration once the building is in service.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Review air barrier types, properties, and characteristics.
  2. Understand the advantages and disadvantages of different air barrier types and become familiar with recent trends.
  3. Understand common pitfalls related to the design and construction of air barrier systems and how to avoid them.
  4. Learn what and how to implement testing and QA/QC measures into your projects.
Level of content:

Elizabeth Rodenkirch, AIA, LEED AP BD+C

SGH, Waltham, MA

Elizabeth V. Rodenkirch is a member of Simpson Gumpertz & Heger Inc.’s (SGH’s) Building Technology group in Chicago, Illinois. Her expertise focuses on building enclosure and sustainability, failure investigation, materials testing, and evaluation of flooring systems. As an ABAA Licensed Field Auditor, Ms. Rodenkirch is intimately familiar with design and installation challenges of air barriers. In her 14 years in the industry, she has investigated numerous building failures, including breaches in the air barrier, and assisted in the development of repairs. Her building enclosure consulting experience includes new building enclosure design, hygrothermal analysis, field testing, evaluation of materials, condition assessment, and preconstruction consulting.

Brian Rose, PE

SGH, Waltham, MA

Brian Rose is a senior member of the Building Technology group at Simpson Gumpertz & Heger and is experienced with new design enclosure consulting, rehabilitation, and investigation projects for a variety of owners, architects, and general contractors. He received his Bachelor and Masters of Architectural Engineering from Pennsylvania State University. Brian has consulted and provided building enclosure commissioning on a wide array of commercial, residential, government, and institutional projects in the mid-Atlantic region and has worked closely with subcontractors to resolve complex detailing transitions with a variety of air barrier materials.