International Masonry Institute News

A Language Barrier for Air Barriers

"Air barriers are one of the top 'no brainers' for sustainable design." - Building Design & Construction

Air barriers are going mainstream, particularly as state and federal governments push energy conservation. Their virtues are many: they reduce building moisture problems, improve air quality, reduce heating and cooling costs, and even improve the acoustics.

BUT... that's only if they are properly understood and installed. And that's a big "if".

The disconnect begins with specifiers, says Perry Sanders, Vice President of Construction for Caretti, Inc., who understands why they are confused by products and terminology that are "all over the place."

Then there are the installers who "didn't understand what it was supposed to be doing," says Fred Kinateder, President of Kinateder Masonry, which created a subsidiary to handle the increasing demand. He argues that bidding air barriers separately as one system would minimize confusion and promote a continuous building envelope.

It really becomes a problem at bid time, where knowledgeable contractors who have invested in air barrier training have to compete with someone willing to "just spray something on the wall," says Sanders. While the lower-priced contractor may look good at bid time, without the knowledge, "it's just money wasted," he says.

Making designers and owners aware of the benefits of using educated contractors will help. Kinateder and Sanders also recommend that specifiers create a specific inspection procedure "to make sure they are getting what they paid for," says Kinateder - preferably before the wall is finished.

IMI offers air barrier education through its Contractor College program, and seminars around the country. Upcoming dates include:

October 8 – Philadelphia

October 28 – Bowie, MD Contractor College

November 19 - AIA Chicago

For local events, check the Technical Seminars calendar, or call 1-800-IMI-0988.

Training, Energy Efficiency, Sustainable Design