Among the wide range of test standards offered by ICC NTA for evaluating building materials and systems, there are some important standards for the air barrier industry that help to ensure that interior areas of constructed buildings conform to building codes and standards for energy efficiency.
For energy efficiency, it is important to consider air permeance or airflow between a conditioned and unconditioned space. This is accomplished through the use of air barriers, which are products that are designed to control the airflow, heat flow, and moisture flow between two areas. Air barriers are essential to achieving a highly energy efficient and durable structure. They protect the structure from unwanted air, heat, and moisture flow throughout the building or from unconditioned areas.
Air barriers receive much attention these days because of the increasing value of energy efficient buildings. Not only does this minimize energy costs. but it helps address the universal need to control carbon footprint and deal with evolving climate change. In light of that, having better ideas of air permeance enables builders to build more efficiently from an energy perspective, thus offering value and stability to building owners.
The two common standards used to test and evaluate air barriers and air barrier assemblies are ASTM E2178 and ASTM E2357, respectively. These standards look at airflow ratios and extraneous airflow to determine whether or not the product and/or assembly conforms to the standard.
Air barrier materials are valuable for sealing buildings. Low air permeance is essential for air barrier performance, and the ASTM E2178 test standard measures air permeance for air barrier materials. Organizations like the Air Barrier Association of America (ABAA) provide helpful data and guidance on using items like flexible sheets or fluid-applied membranes as air barriers.
While ASTM E2178 is used to test specific air barrier materials, ASTM E2357 is used to determine the air leakage rate of air barrier assemblies. The assembly includes the air barrier material, penetrations, terminations, and connections. Having this data allows building professionals to review and evaluate the performance of the building enclosure.
Difference between Air and Water Barriers
It’s important to state that an air barrier is not necessarily a water-resistive barrier (WRB) or vapor barrier. Air barriers themselves are not intended to stand up to significant moisture in the way that a WRB or vapor barrier will. Toxic gases also have to be managed on a different basis.
About ICC NTA, LLC: As an accredited third-party agency and part of the International Code Council (ICC) Family of Solutions, ICC NTA provides code evaluation, product certification, inspection, engineering, plan review, and testing services, as well as independent quality and standards compliance verification for building product manufacturers. With offices, testing labs, and training facilities in Nappanee, Indiana and Bryan, Texas, ICC NTA serves residential and commercial builders, code officials, manufacturers, and suppliers throughout the building industry.