Unmasking commercial energy loss

The need to achieve high-performance buildings has prompted design changes that incorporate efficient use of energy and resources. One of these changes, the design, installation and testing of the building air barrier, has driven a dramatic increase in the demand for blower-door testing of large buildings.

The 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) requires testing of multifamily buildings less than three stories. The General Services Administration (GSA) requires testing of new government buildings. Washington state requires that commercial and multifamily residential buildings of greater than five stories have the completed airbarrier tested. The United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has an air-tightness requirement and all new buildings and major renovations must be tested for air leakage. The USACE has found that consultants that work with the contractors through the design and construction phases are able to pass the blower-door test at levels greater than 50% tighter than the standard. As more consultants learn these techniques, this emerging technology will move more quickly from the public sector to the private sector.

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