Air Infiltration: The Hidden Energy Efficiency

Comparison of the ASTM standard and the U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers standard for air infiltration.

Air infiltration long has been a little-understood or even ignored factor when it comes to energy efficiency in commercial buildings. Engineers understand it exists, but tolerate its existence by simply accounting for it in heating- and cooling-system design. Fixing the problem at its source can be complicated and span beyond a designer’s scope of work. Until now, it has been the elephant in the room no one wants to talk about.

According to HPAC Engineering, with the changeover to the new IECC code and similar language included in the International Green Construction Code (IGCC) and many other energy codes across the country, reducing air infiltration no doubt will be one of the new best practices addressed in the green-building movement.

HPAC Engineering looks at two compliance methods in its March issue: One is to follow a list of prescriptive materials to use as an air barrier. The second is testing the building for air infiltration, which is required if the designer chooses not to use the prescribed air-barrier materials.

As designers continue to strive for higher-performing buildings and as new energy codes begin to mandate better air-infiltration performance, architects and engineers will begin to become more cognizant of the importance of air infiltration and its effects on energy efficiency....