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Can Air Sealing Help Create Energy-Efficient Buildings?

Lee Salamone

In recent years, there has been a growing focus on creating more energy-efficient buildings, and that starts with ensuring that buildings are sealed from unwanted air infiltration.

Did you know that as much as 40% of a building’s energy is lost to unwanted airflow? Failure to seal the building envelope leaves gaps and holes, drives up energy usage, and lets valuable resources go to waste.

Properly sealed buildings require less energy for heating and cooling, which may result in savings for owners. Energy-efficient buildings also helps occupants by stabilizing indoor temperatures, and improving air quality and comfort.

California Promotes Air Sealing

The California Energy Commission (CEC) Efficiency Division recognizes that preventing unwanted airflow is fundamental to creating energy efficient buildings.

The CEC recently published a document on the importance of sealing the building’s envelope. The envelope is the exterior components of a building that enclose the conditioned space, separating the conditioned space from unconditioned spaces like attics and garages.

The CEC notes that buildings with properly sealed envelopes have lower rates of air leakage, which saves on energy related to heating and cooling. Controlling the indoor-outdoor air exchange is also made easier with proper sealing.

California’s energy code even has mandatory requirements for sealing the envelopes of certain types of buildings, including:

  • Newly constructed low-rise residential
  • Nonresidential
  • Hotels
  • Motels
  • High-rise residential buildings

Spray Polyurethane Foam: The Ultimate Solution

What better way to meet California’s sealing requirements than with spray polyurethane foam (SPF)? SPF performs as both insulation and an air barrier, sealing nooks and crannies that let air escape and drive up energy usage. This increases energy savings and helps keep indoor temperatures steady all while using a single product.

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that about 56% of energy used in a home goes to heating and cooling. Heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems have a tremendous impact on your energy consumption, and air leaks can cause them to overwork. SPF insulation can help reduce HVAC sizing by as much as 35% without losing efficiency and comfort.

It’s pretty clear that SPF can play a key role in creating energy-efficient buildings. SPF’s ability to fill gaps in the building envelope and stop leaks in many areas of the home makes it instrumental in controlling airflow and increasing energy savings. These qualities can greatly assist builders in not just meeting, but exceeding California’s Energy Code requirements for sealing the building envelope.

About the Author
American Chemistry Council

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) represents the leading companies engaged in the business of chemistry. ACC members apply the science of chemistry to make innovative products and services that make people's lives better, healthier and safer. ACC is committed to improved environmental, health and safety performance through Responsible Care®; common sense advocacy designed to address major public policy issues; and health and environmental research and product testing. The business of chemistry is a $486 billion enterprise and a key element of the nation's economy. It is among the largest exporters in the nation, accounting for ten percent of all U.S. goods exports. Chemistry companies are among the largest investors in research and development. Safety and security have always been primary concerns of ACC members, and they have intensified their efforts, working closely with government agencies to improve security and to defend against any threat to the nation’s critical infrastructure.

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