Air Barrier Association Evaluates Air Leakage Performance

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The Air Barrier Association of America (ABAA) has an evaluation protocol for air barrier materials and assemblies that has been successfully completed by a range of DuPont™ Tyvek® materials.

According to the protocol, air barrier manufacturers must submit third-party test reports, and also demonstrate compliance with existing standards for air barrier materials and air barrier assemblies.

These requirements must be successfully met in order to be listed on the ABAA website with the label “ABAA Evaluated.”

Learn more about Air Barrier Association of America evaluation

Setting an Industry Standard

One of the most cost-effective strategies for improving building energy performance is to reduce building air leakage.  But until recently, energy codes did not have quantitative requirements for air leakage control.

The ABAA evaluation protocol provides a third-party assessment of air barrier material and assemblies performance, to help commercial construction professionals make smart air barrier choices and improve the energy efficiency of the structures they build.

Consequences of Air Leakage

Air leakage may be defined as the unplanned, unintentional, and unpredictable flow of air across the building enclosure.  It can occur when two conditions are present: a driving force and a pathway.  Air leakage affects building performance in three important ways: by transporting heat, by transporting moisture, and by transporting contaminants across the building envelope.

Heat transport can result in loss of interior heated or cooled air, and the infiltration of exterior air to replace it.  Both these conditions can trigger the HVAC system to work harder to compensate.

Moisture transport can affect the durability of the building envelope.  While condensation problems are often mistakenly attributed to vapor diffusion, air leakage can transport significantly larger amounts of moisture into the building envelope.

Finally, air transported contaminants from outside, as well as off-gassing from building envelope materials, can affect the safety and comfort of building occupants.

Solution: A Continuous Air Barrier

By helping to increase building performance, a continuous air barrier offers many significant benefits. Chief among these are:

  • Increased energy efficiency, resulting in lower operating costs.
  • Increased building envelope durability, by controlling air-transported moisture and potential moisture damage.
  • Improved comfort for building occupants.

DuPont Materials Are ABAA Evaluated

ABAA evaluations of wall air barrier assemblies using DuPont™ Tyvek® CommercialWrap®, CommercialWrap® D, Tyvek® Fluid Applied WB, and various DuPont Building Envelope System components, have been successfully completed.

To effectively control air leakage, there are four fundamental requirements of an air barrier:  air infiltration resistance, continuity, structural integrity, and durability.  Vapor permeability is another important consideration, because air barriers are generally installed on the exterior side of the building envelope, and must be specified to ensure proper moisture management (e.g., allow drying of incidental moisture intrusion).