Air Sealing Best Practices and Code Compliance for Multi-Family Area Separation Walls
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DOE Zero Energy Ready Homes feature an optimized building enclosure with complete air barriers to make homes more comfortable with less energy. In recognition of the challenges of air-sealing the area separation wall in attached dwellings, we've adjusted the target ACH50 for qualifying ZERH homes to 3 ACH50 for attached dwellings in all climate zones. In this DOE Building America webinar, you can learn about the latest research on this challenging air sealing detail.
For more than 20 years, the DOE Building America Program has been partnering with industry to bring cutting-edge housing research on energy efficiency to the residential building industry and the public. This webinar will provide an overview of area separation wall assembly construction in multi-family buildings, air sealing methods, and code compliance requirements.
Air sealing of area separation wall assemblies is an identified barrier that limits the ability of builders to cost effectively achieve higher energy efficiency and quality levels in multi-family housing. Area separation wall assemblies that are tested and certified by UL have not been designed or tested for air tightness, and air leakage through these assemblies can be a barrier to achieving air leakage limits mandated by the International Residential Code (IRC) and International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). The 2012/2015 IECC mandates 3 ACH50 in climate zones 3-8 measured air leakage requirements for all units within multifamily buildings.
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification program, ASHRAE Standard 189, and ASHRAE 62.2 all have comparable compartmentalization requirements. Fire-resistance rated wall assemblies (or area separation walls) have been identified as the major source of difficulty in air sealing/compartmentalization. Building owners are challenged with constructing to significantly tighter levels, addressing compartmentalization issues between units, and adopting test procedures to prove compliance.