BOMA Regards Proposed Standard for Air Barrier as Flawed

Dec. 7, 2005
Construction costs and complexity may increase as a result of proposed standard

BOMA Intl. has submitted comments on a proposed standard for requiring air barriers in the construction of new buildings. In its comments, BOMA questions the data and rationale for the standard’s issuance. The standard, issued by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) will create a new addendum to its Standard 90.1-2004, Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings, Addendum z, which will essentially require all new commercial buildings over three stories to install a continuous air barrier. 

In proposing the addendum, ASHRAE contends that, although performance requirements have existed for fenestration and door products, evidence suggests that the building envelope is the source of the majority of air leakage in buildings. According to ASHRAE, this leakage is caused by the lack of attention in the design and construction. Another reason given is that leakage also occurs because of the need for performance criteria for the building envelope.

In its comments, BOMA asserted that the proposal is a dramatic departure from current construction practices and will very substantially increase construction costs and complexity with questionable benefit in terms of reducing energy usage based on current construction practices. BOMA identified three broad areas that make the adoption of the proposed standard infeasible: application and installation of the air barrier, testing that would ascertain if the air barrier was working, and the operation of the air barrier once it is installed. BOMA pointed out that the proposed standard does not offer evidence of sufficient testing across the wide spectrum of building sizes and construction types in support of the proposed standard.

This article was reprinted from the Dec. 1, 2005, edition of BOMA Currents with permission ( For more information, contact BOMA Intl. by calling (202) 326-6365.

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