Tighten Up Your Advice About Air Sealing

Special Issue 2005
A version of this article appears in the Special Issue 2005 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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January 01, 2005
A green building program manager has found that combining prescriptive and performance standards yields better air sealing practices.
        Air sealing is a basic prerequisite for high-performance construction. A well-sealed house will be more comfortable, will have improved indoor air quality, and will reduce the homeowner’s utility bills. At the Southface Energy Institute, where I am program manager, we promote airtight construction, as do many other building science organizations. This article presents some of the lessons I’ve learned as a manager and inspector for builders and subcontractors in several energy efficiency programs, including EarthCraft House, Right Choice, and Home Performance with Energy Star (see “Three Performance Programs,” p. 42). Setting the Standard         There are two methods to set the standard for achieving a tight building envelope: prescriptive standards and performance standards. Prescriptive standards include air sealing measures, such as “seal all window and door rough openings.” Performance standards are usually based on empirical data, such as blower door test results.At first glance, performance standards seem like the obvious choice for measuring the effectiveness of air sealing—but if a builder is not taught how to construct a tight envelope, setting a performance standard can lead to undesirable results. &...

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