A renewed focus on better barrier wall construction has emerged recently, driven not by hypothetical ideals but by real and present demands. On the one hand, today’s building codes are pushing for more efficient envelopes, as seen in recent changes in the Washington State Energy Code and the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certifications, as well as almost universal adoption of the International Energy Conservation Code in U.S. jurisdictions. On the other hand, a number of building owners, tenants and designers are demanding greater energy efficiency and occupant comfort, in part as a competitive drive for more enjoyable, healthful and sustainable buildings.
These pressures have led to calls for wall systems and cladding choices that serve more needs, better. Enclosures need to minimize air leaks and thermal bridging, often called “energy bridges.” Market demands also focus more attention on the value of a superior air-and-moisture barrier, or AMB—materials and systems compatible with all varieties of cladding to serve every North American climate zone. To these ends, building project teams are asking a few pointed questions.