Cold weather regions pose unique challenges for architects and construction crews alike. Freezing temperatures and precipitation can lead to problems that harm the structural integrity of a building envelope and the comfort of its occupants. Consequently, architects must take a variety of factors into consideration when drawing up plans and selecting materials for the building envelope, and construction crews need to take steps to ensure severe weather doesn’t cause costly delays. But with the proper considerations during both the planning and building phases, project stakeholders can help ensure that they create a building that will withstand the elements both on time and within budget.
Let’s start with the planning phase. Some in the AEC community feel that cold weather climates demand a vapor-impermeable water-resistive and air barrier (WRB-AB) as a component of the building envelope, but that isn’t actually the case. While a WRB-AB is necessary to keep the outside elements from making their way inside the building, choosing one that doesn’t allow vapor to escape can have a damaging effect on the health and structural integrity of the envelope.