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* ASHRAE proposal has 3 compliance options: Material, Assembly, or Whole Building. Summary of existing and proposed energy codes

The 1995 National Building Code of Canada (NBC code) requires a continuous air barrier for all commercial buildings. Massachusetts was the first state to adopt an energy code, in 2001, which is similar to the NBC code, and requires a continuous air barrier for commercial buildings. Wisconsin adopted an energy code in 2003. Minnesota is developing an energy code in early 2006, with similar compliance criteria as the Massachusetts energy code. In addition, as of 2003, the Envelope Design Guidelines for Federal Office Buildings and Multi-Family High Rise Residential Buildings require air barriers.

As air barriers are better understood and the benefits are documented, more jurisdictions will likely be following suit. In 2005, the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) approved an amendment to the ASHRAE 90.1 model energy code that would require an air barrier for most commercial buildings in most climate zones. With their clear advantages and the imminent code requirements, it's critical that architects understand the air barrier functions and benefits, and how to specify them.

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