It is a big number, a very big number – 39 quadrillion British thermal units (BTUs). According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), that’s how much energy was consumed by all the residential and commercial buildings in the United States in 2015. Those BTUs represent approximately 40 percent of all the energy consumed nationwide. Concurrently, these structures account for about 38 percent of all CO2 emissions in the country.
Not surprisingly, new building codes and standards have been introduced to minimize both energy consumption and the release of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. In 2015, updates to the International Energy Efficiency Code (IEEC) effectively increased the importance of effective thermal barriers in green construction and remodeling.
The pace of green construction will only accelerate in coming years as building designers and contractors work toward the development of net-zero structures – those that generate renewable energy equal to or exceeding energy consumption on-site. The Energy Independence and Security Act, signed into law in 2007, requires that all new commercial structures be net-zero by 2030.
More stringent building codes, rising energy costs, and growing attention to green construction all add to the importance of complete building envelope protection. According to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, the building envelope is the interface between the outdoors and the interior of the building. Therefore, it includes the walls, foundation, and roof.
The lack of a properly installed, continuous building envelope may result in undesirable air migration and/or moisture intrusion.
Air migration — Drafts may reduce comfort without the installation of an airtight building envelope. When warm air escapes in the winter or intrudes in the summer, energy costs rise. Decades ago, when heating and cooling costs were quite modest, little attention was given to the airtightness of a structure. Today, the proper installation of a quality air barrier can significantly reduce heating and cooling costs. One estimate suggests that the use of an airtight barrier and recommended levels of insulation can reduce heating and cooling costs by 20 percent, on average.
An effective barrier which restricts unwanted movement of air from the outside to the inside of a structure, or vice-versa, may reduce the size of the HVAC system required, thereby reducing your initial investment. Also, when the air is brought into a building primarily through the HVAC system, proper air quality is ensured. Polluted air that finds its way through cracks and crevices can be problematic, particularly for those with respiratory ailments like asthma.
Moisture intrusion — Wherever air can intrude, so can humidity and moisture. A well-designed, properly installed continuous building envelope can prevent moisture from getting into walls where it can cause a variety of problems. The R-value of insulation is often reduced when it gets wet. Unwanted moisture in walls may lead to unhealthy mold or smelly mildew. Corrosion and rotting are also possibilities. Ultimately, moisture problems may result in the deterioration of building materials, necessitating potentially expensive building repairs.
For most applications, a water-resistive barrier (WRB) that still breathes sufficiently is ideal. When incidental moisture does enter the wall cavity, it needs to escape. Vapor-permeable barriers stop unnecessary moisture intrusion while simultaneously providing a means for trapped humidity, condensation, and other moisture to make its way outside.
Barricade® Building Products manufactures translucent, water-resistive, vapor-permeable air barriers in a variety of lengths and widths. To learn more about technical specifications, please click here. Low minimum quantity requirements allow us to manufacture house wrap that is ideal for your application. We welcome inquiries from customers and vendors alike. Contact us today for prompt, friendly and professional assistance.