A Case Study in Enclosure Coordination: How the Academy for Global Citizenship Achieved Passive House Air Leakage Rates

Wednesday May 8, 3:30pm – 4:30pm

Grand Ballroom

Join Leonard Sciarra (FARR) and Steve Black (Power Construction) as they showcase the Academy for Global Citizenship, a 70,000 square foot, two-story K-8 school located on the Southwest Side of Chicago. The school achieves the air tightness required to achieve both Living Building Challenge and PHIUS 2021. The team will discuss strategies employed and challenges faced from design and procurement to construction and site observation.  Attendees will learn about the multiple types of envelope components, designing for complex geometries, and penetrations through different materials.  The team will discuss the communication and strategy involved in managing a large project with multiple trades—coordinating their overlap in a seamless way to ensure proper envelop enclosure.  The school, part of the Chicago Public School system, was delivered on budget and in a shorter timeframe than a typical CPS school, with a high percentage of local, Minority and Women-owned contractors.


Attendees will review best practices, including:

  • early involvement of the general contractor to perform constructability reviews
  • early thermal modeling to confirm wall assembly would perform as designed and to confirm impacts of construction changes to the whole building energy model as
  • on site performance mock up to confirm constructability and serve as a teaching tool for trades as they were on boarded
  • incorporating the lessons learned from the mockup to the production work
  • Redundancy in the air barrier envelope
  • Incorporating a roof level air barrier
  • Training the trades executing the work about the importance of continuity
  • Having a high-performance building enclosure consultant involved though out the design
  • Shop drawing review and field execution phases of the project
  • How to prepare for a blower door test

Learning Objectives:

  1. Describe the key communication strategies for a successful air barrier installation program.
  2. How to organize your design documents for a successful air barrier procurement.
  3. How to prepare a large project for a successful air leakage test.
  4. Summarize the benefits of early design and pre-construction strategies such as energy modeling and mock-ups.
Level of content:

Leonard Sciarra, AIA, ASHRAE, CPHC, LEED f/ap+

FARR, Chicago IL

Leonard Sciara is a recognized expert in integrating sustainable design principals into architectural practice. Len is an advocate for environmental thinking and energy efficiency as a necessary part of good design.

A strategic problem-solver, Len brings over 30 years’ experience to his sustainability projects. His career includes many examples of green design leadership and advocacy, including as chair of the AIA Committee on the Environment and Envelope Sub-committee chair of ASHRAE standard 90.1.  Currently he holds the position of Vice-Chair of the full committee.

Previously, Len started the AIA 2030 Challenge in Chicago and helped transition it to become the national AIA benchmarking tool.  Additionally he was key player in the passage of benchmarking ordinances in Chicago and Evanston.

Steve Black

Power Construction, Chicago IL

Steve Black is a Senior Quality Support Manager at Power Construction. His 30 plus years in Construction, the last 12 in Chicago, gives him a special knack for breaking problems into their component parts, identifying the overall process and setting up step-by-step procedures for realizing goals. He offers expertise and advice on a wide range of technical areas including enclosure systems, specialty interior finishes, and the challenges associated with using some of the newest materials in an interiors environment. Steve’s recent projects include aviation, multi-family towers, healthcare, adaptive reuse, and new construction in a variety of markets.