Using Air Flow To Create A More Energy Efficient Building
How would you describe an ideal energy efficient building? If you’re like most people, a few things come instantly to mind.
- Well insulated walls
- A ventilated roof
- Quality windows with low-E glass
- A high efficiency HVAC system
And while all of these characteristics are a good start, in many cases, it’s simply not enough. Buildings can still face elevated levels of moisture, low quality indoor air, all of which increase utility bills on a monthly basis. How can this happen?
And more importantly, what can you do to create a more energy efficient building?
Stop air flow around joints in the building shell
It makes little sense to invest in high quality insulation in walls and ceilings when air flow occurs around the connections. All joints in wood to wood and wood to drywall connections throughout the building should be airtight and sealed properly with gaskets, foams, caulks or barrier films. And since buildings are always moving and changing based on daily weather and climate conditions, it’s critical that air-sealing products can take the punishment of the environment it’s introduced into. For example, gaskets are preferred over foams and caulks because they last longer and respond better to movement. Not only should air-sealing products last as long as the structure, but be checked and updated as improvements are made over the years.
Eliminate unnecessary holes and seal those that are unavoidable
Over the years, changes are made to the structure as new technology is introduced. Holes may be cut when new electrical or HVAC equipment is upgraded or changed. Gaps may be created as renovations or remodels are conducted. Yet while these kinds of changes are unavoidable, not sealing them properly leaves your building vulnerable. Plumbing stacks should be sealed with sheet rubber gaskets. Seal fire chases around chimneys with sheet metal flanges. Be conscious of every change you make, ensuring the addition is tightly sealed before the work is completed.
Completely fill all cavities with insulation
Even the smallest gaps in framing can cause significant air flow loss, especially where there is a space between the insulation and the drywall that allows air to move freely. Avoid kraft-faced or foil-faced fiberglass insulators, choosing unfaced instead to fully tuck insulation around all edges of joists and studs. Spray applied cellulose or fiberglass with an adhesive binder applied in foam format can also ensure every section is fully covered.
Block all pathways for moisture to enter
If moisture gets in, it’s a recipe for disaster. Ventilation under the roof or behind the siding solves this problem by equalizing air pressure on all sides of the building. Moisture usually enters in one of two ways, either in air that flows through holes and cracks, or by diffusion through building materials. Air carried moisture can cause the most significant amount of damage, and can be stopped by creating airtight seals on all inner surfaces of the wall. Moisture movement through diffusion can be easily stopped with vapor barrier films, paints or other materials with low moisture absorbency.
Have a question about the air quality of your building? Looking to make your building as efficient as possible? Give us a call today.