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Power Efficiency Guide

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Based in Moon Township, near Pittsburgh, CENTRIA is an international company and the nation's premier supplier of architectural metal wall and roof systems used in industrial and commercial building construction. Since 1906, CENTRIA professionals have provided quality products and service for architectural and construction firms worldwide. For more information visit www.CENTRIA.com.

Air Barriers:

Increasing Building Performance, Decreasing Energy Costs

Provided by DuPont Tyvek

Controlling air leakage is an important factor in maintaining a building's energy efficiency. According to the United States Department of Energy, some 40 percent of the energy of heating and cooling a building is lost by uncontrolled air leakage through the building enclosure. As a result, North American energy codes have started to address airtight qualities in buildings. Uncontrolled air leakage could have consequences beyond increased energy consumption, regarding health and safety of the building occupants, as well as premature deterioration of building materials.

This article will focus on air barrier membranes, which are materials specifically designed to control airflow. Lightweight, yet strong, air barrier membranes can control unwanted air leakage and create an airtight

Lightweight, yet strong, air barrier membranes can control unwanted air leakage and create an airtight building, while enhancing the comfort of interior environments, building envelope durability, and energy efficiency in a way thaïs cost effective and visually unobtrusive. And the payoff in energy savings can be significant.

building, while enhancing the comfort of interior environments, building envelope durability, and energy efficiency in a way that's cost effective and visually unobtrusive. And the payoff in energy savings can be significant. A 2005 National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) study indicates that an air barrier system could reduce air leakage by up to 85 percent, and realize a 40 percent savings in natural gas, and a 25 percent savings in electricity.

The energy implications of air barriers are significant," says Peter J. Arsenault, AIA, NCARB, LEED-AP, principal of Peter J. Arsenault Architect in Syracuse, New York. "Air infiltration in a building can account for a nearly equal degree of energy loss as insulation values. In other words, R-values and insulation details account for about half of the heating and cooling energy use in a building. The other half is lost to air infiltration. Tests have shown a significant decrease in air infiltration with proper installation of air barriers."

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