Addressing the Air Barriers When Renovating Commercial Buildings

Tuesday, May 10, 2:30pm – 3:30pm

Buildings prior to the 1990’s did not include an air barrier membrane as we understand It today. This presentation will address how to determine the upgrade of the air barrier/airtightness of a commercial building under renovation. Like any construction project the owner will have requirements of what the renovation has to achieve. The focus is on aesthetics, extended life service, energy and comfort. The air barrier/airtight buildings are essential to meet these needs, apart from the aesthetics. Renovations usually have two different approaches, no quantified performance required or a measured reduction in energy use which will need a quantified performance result. When in the original design if there is no air barrier, there will be by default a plane of airtightness which will need to be defined, including all the assemblies within the enclosure and whole building airtightness. The first approach is to locate the holes by qualitative testing and seal them, the second approach will be quantified before and after construction by airtightness testing and may require invasive openings made in the building enclosure. This presentation will show the step by step methodology for both approaches, including setting goals, investigation and taking quantified measurements of pre-retrofit conditions to help establish reasonable reductions in the rate of air leakage. Also testing during the construction phase and post testing to confirm compliance for the project requirements.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand the two different approaches when renovating commercial buildings qualitative or quantified.
  2. To learn the basic principles of the default a plane of airtightness.
  3. Understand the assessment process of the airtightnees of the building enclosure.
  4. Learn the testing methods and Standards used during the renovations.
Level of content:

Bryan M. Monahan, P.E.

Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc., Falls Church, VA

Bryan Monahan is a Senior Associate and registered professional engineer in the Washington DC office of Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc. (WJE). Throughout his fourteen years with WJE, he has worked on a wide range of investigations for structural, thermal performance, and building envelope failures. These investigations include various systems and materials, including glazed curtain walls and windows; masonry; architectural terra cotta; dimension stone; and precast, post-tensioned and cast-in-place concrete. His building enclosure commissioning (BECx) experience on multiple healthcare and institutional buildings includes all phases of the process, including design development, peer review of construction documents, functional performance testing, construction observations, and warranty phase documentation.

He has given multiple presentations and lecturers on curtain wall testing and evaluation of fenestration products, as well as building envelope testing, performance, and commissioning for The Pennsylvania State University, Bucknell University, the Architectural Glass and Metal Association (AGMA), and Sustainable Roofing Alliance (SRA) and the Washington D.C. chapter of the Building Enclosure Council. He has technical training in WUFI, THERM, Thermography (Level I) and has received Installation Masters training for Installation of Windows/Doors in Commercial Buildings.

Mr. Monahan is a licensed engineer in Ohio, and Pennsylvania and holds a Masters in Architectural Engineering from The Pennsylvania State University. He is also a technical contact for ASTM Sub-Committee E06.41.01.