Green Construction Starts with Using the Right Air Barrier


Today, many builders are increasingly leaning towards green construction. According to Canadian study World Green Building Trends 2018, 35% of Canadian firms who participated in the study report that more than 60% of their projects are green, and by 2021 the number of firms to achieve this is expected to rise to 48%. What’s interesting is that almost two-thirds of the survey respondents who have led green retrofit or renovation projects foresee that operating costs of green buildings will decrease by 6% within the next five years, while 44% of building owners foresee that a building’s value will potentially increase by more than 5% when compared to a building that is not considered green.

Air barriers and continuous insulation have multi-faceted and increasingly important roles in an age of green construction. Now, more than ever, they are considered mainstream building systems that address the demands of stringent building codes in the industry. To meet current building code requirements, attention must be given to the proper installation of air barriers so that they create a continuous building envelope, severely inhibiting air and moisture migration.

Characteristics of the Most Successful Air and Moisture Barriers for Green Construction

To elaborate on the role of air barriers in achieving green construction, we’ll highlight the adverse effects of a non-airtight construction, the most common types of air barriers, what the Air Barrier Association of America (ABAA) has established as master specifications for the various types of air barriers, and the criteria that the most successful air barriers meet.

The adverse effects of non-airtight construction are well known:

  • Unwanted air migration which increases energy costs
  • Reduced R-value caused by moisture-laden insulation
  • Increased moisture intrusion via capillarity
  • Potential development of toxic mold, odor-producing mildew, wood rot, and corrosion
  • Premature failure of building components

When insulation gets wet, it loses its ability to resist thermal flow, and property owners do not achieve expected energy savings. Mold remediation and the replacement of rotted wood or corroded metal is expensive and time consuming. In a variety of ways, a non-airtight structure fails as a green building.

Common air barriers include:

  • Rigid foam sheathing made airtight through the proper application of durable tapes
  • Elastomeric materials which are fluid or trowel applied
  • Mechanically fastened housewraps
  • Self-adhering sheet products, including peel-and-stick membranes like DELTA®-VENT SA

Air Barrier Association of America (ABAA) outlines the various types of air barriers, and the functions of the most successful ones:

  • Reduce required HVAC system size while improving efficiency
  • Properly manage air pressure relationships
  • Allow water vapor to escape from wall cavities
  • Increase occupant comfort through reduced drafts
  • Enhance indoor air quality

The Go-to Air and Moisture Barrier for Energy-efficient Construction—DELTA®-VENT SA

To achieve energy-efficient construction, today’s builders must focus on using products that deliver energy savings, durability, and occupant health and comfort. Within this context, air and moisture barriers play an integral role—DELTA®-VENT SA is a high-performance air and moisture barrier that helps create a comfortable, sustainable, energy-efficient building. It is the only self-adhering, water-resistive barrier with an adhesive edge lap, and works to create a continuous water, air, and weather-resistive barrier that is also highly vapor permeable so that buildings can stay dry and last longer. By allowing moisture to escape, DELTA®-VENT SA eliminates the risk of mold and other problems caused by moisture. DELTA®-VENT SA also improves the performance of the wall system by adhering directly to the substrate, meaning fasteners are not required. This eliminates the risk of leaks and provides increased airtightness for optimal building performance.

Overall, it’s important to remember that energy efficiency is simply one component of a green building—and that sustainable products are another. In addition to meeting or exceeding stringent codes, DELTA® products are non-toxic, non-polluting, are 100% recyclable, and can function for a lifetime. As part of its commitment to the environment, Dörken utilizes recyclable and minimal packaging for all DELTA® products. For more information about Dörken’s range of products, click here.

Interested in learning more about achieving an airtight construction? Click here.