The effects and cost impact of poor airtightness - information for developers and clients
Paper i proceeding, 2007
Air movements in and through the building envelope affect the flows of not only heat, but also moisture, gases and particles, in a building. They often play a decisive part in determining moisture conditions, and thus indoor environmental conditions in the building, and ultimately, the durability of the building structure. Air flows affect thermal comfort and ventilation, and thus air quality. In addition, they also cause heat loss, both directly via ventilation, and through their effect on the performance of what are intended to be high-insulation structures. A previous joint project between SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden and Chalmers University of Technology investigated the importance of airtightness in the construction process. The project found that many types of damage and problems were caused by poor airtightness, that airtightness was seldom given the proper consideration that it deserved and that there was a major need for information on the effect of poor airtightness. One of the conclusions was that it is important to get developers/ clients to treat airtightness more seriously. The objective of the follow-on project that is described here is therefore to make developers/clients (more) aware of the potential damage that can be caused by poor airtightness, together with the “cost” of this damage/problem in a life-cycle perspective. Hopefully, developers/clients will then specify and monitor airtightness requirements more clearly. The aim is therefore to develop tools and methods for informing developers/clients of the importance of good airtightness, and of the resulting extra costs that incur from paying insufficient attention to airtightness. The project has identified and assessed various consequences of poor airtightness, such as increased energy use, reduced thermal comfort, reduced air quality and moisture damages. The cost calculations show that the developer/client would benefit in most cases from an increased standard and follow up on airtightness. We have projected the work with three different levels of ambition: 0.2, 0.4 and 0.6 l/m2s (at 50 Pa pressure difference), and believe that the optimal airtightness lies somewhere in the region of these values, depending on the buildings use and equipment.