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Proposed Standard Will Enhance Installation of Air Barrier Systems

Poorly controlled airflow in buildings can result in energy loss and moisture-damage. Air-barrier systems control the amount of air passing in and out of building envelopes, saving energy and reducing damage.

“Excess air leakage can result in mold, and other ‘sick-building’ symptoms that result from improper control of airflow building envelopes,” says architect Lance Robson, who is chairing the development of an ASTM International standard for air-barrier systems. “Buildings are sometimes too tight due to the wrong application and integration of air barriers in the wall systems.”

ASTM Subcommittee E06.41 on Air Leakage and Ventilation Performance has drafted a Standard Practice for Determining the Air Permeance Rating of Air Barrier Assemblies. “Air-barrier systems are now specified in four state building codes and in federal construction with a dozen more state and code bodies considering them,” he says.

The subcommittee initiated the standard to conserve energy for heating and cooling, prevent excess moisture in envelope systems, and guide installers with building-code compliance.

“Currently no standard exists to assess the performance of building-component systems intended to serve as an integrated air barrier,” explains Robson, building-exterior specialist, Building Envelope Technologies, Inc., West Bridgewater, Mass. Existing ASTM standards assess individual materials used in air-barrier systems, but the proposed standard assesses their use in systems incorporated in building envelopes.

“Federal standards and some states require installation of air barrier systems as a function of energy-conservation programs,” he notes, “but there are insufficient standards to define existing state and local codes and provide an assessment of comparative performance.” Robson says the subcommittee plans to develop additional standards on successful air-barrier applications.

Members of ASTM Committee E06 Performance of Buildings welcome feedback as they review the proposed standard. To participate in this activity or obtain further technical information, contact Lance Robson, Building Envelope Technologies, Inc., West Bridgewater, Mass. (phone: 508/897-0556). Committee E06 meets October 19-22 in Tampa, Fla. Committee E06 Oct. 19-22 in Tampa, Fla. For meeting or membership details, contact Steve Mawn, manager, Technical Committee Operations, ASTM International (phone: 610/832-9726). //

Copyright 2003, ASTM