Well, That Doesn’t Look Like What’s on Paper: Common Pitfalls in Air Barrier Coordination


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 coordinating the air barrier systems on paper is paramount. However, no one person builds an entire commercial building, and miscommunication between the stakeholders can lead to missed opportunities for efficiencies or result in performance issues. Clear documentation can facilitate the coordination and leverage the unique expertise of each team member. We will highlight common oversights or omissions in design drawings, specifications, and construction of air barrier systems that may lead to issues on site, and we will discuss best practices for developing these documents to clearly show the design intent and contractors’ proposed solutions. 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, coordination, 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. Understand common coordination pitfalls related to the design and construction of air barrier systems and how to avoid them.
  2. Compare the designers’ and the installers’ responsibilities for coordinating and documenting the air barrier detailing.
  3. Examine the level of detail incorporated into the design document versus the level of detail incorporated into the shop drawings and examine when formal RFIs may be warranted to address unforeseen site conditions.
  4. Learn best practices for coordinating air barrier systems and leveraging the strengths of each project team member to increase quality assurance on 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.