Air Leakage Testing Project

As C. Tucker Cope continues to be on the forefront of technology in the metal building industry, the national organization MBMA (Metal Building Manufactures Association) has partnered with us to test air leakage on one of our newly constructed building this week in Columbiana. This testing will begin set up on Tuesday (1/2/21) and continue with two different smoke tests on Wednesday and Thursday to compare different construction techniques and how it affects air leakage. Information from this testing will be used nation wide to help determine best practices methods for construction as the expected new “greener” energy requirements are
adopted nationwide. Below is a description of the testing and what is hoping to be accomplished.

Air Leakage Testing Project

Changes are underway to energy standards and building codes, specifically ASHRAE 90.1 and the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), which will reduce air leakage limits and require testing to validate compliance. In
most areas, whole-building air leakage testing is now an alternative compliance path; but many states will soon require on-site testing of new buildings to meet the code leakage limits.

To understand the impact of the changes, a testing project is proceeding, orchestrated by the Metal Building Manufacturers Association (MBMA), in collaboration with the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA) and the Metal Building Contractors and Erectors Association (MBCEA). The testing objectives are to see how well metal buildings comply with the code air leakage requirements and to determine what specific elements of metal buildings may contribute to significant leakage. To date, the MBMA/NAIMA/MBCEA collaboration has tested metal buildings with a variety of insulation systems in Florida, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Washington, but additional tests are planned.

The testing to date confirmed that, when the right materials are specified and correctly installed, metal buildings indeed pass the air leakage tests. In order A successful test is more likely when a building project team pays attention to four areas:
• Overhead doors
• Fenestrations
• Transition areas
• Intersections in a building’s insulation system

The lessons learned from this project are being used to develop a best practice guide that will help prepare builders, contractors, and erectors for upcoming code requirements for whole building air leakage testing. This
information is already being applied by contractors to building more energy efficient buildings.