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Air Barriers

air barriers
A masonry wall goes up over sheathing coated with new PROSOCO R-GUARD, a fluid-applied air and moisture barrier.

Stopping mold and making buildings code-compliant and energy-efficient are the linchpin of the "Air Barrier Initiative" (ABI), a joint venture between PROSOCO of Lawrence, Kan., and Sto Corp. of Atlanta.

The two national manufacturers of construction products have joined forces to get the industry up to speed on air barriers — an item architects, specifiers, contractors and distributors will hear increasingly more about over the next five to 10 years.

Correctly installed, air barriers control the movement of air through the building envelope. They ease the load on HVAC systems, making buildings more cost-effective and energy-efficient. Controlled air flow is also less likely to deposit mold-causing moisture inside building walls.

State authorities take these benefits so seriously that they've formalized air barrier codes in three states — Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Minnesota. At least 20 more states have air barrier codes on the drawing boards. The Air Barrier Association of America (ABAA) predicts a nationwide air barrier requirement code by 2010.

The U.S. Department of Energy is interested in energy efficiency also, with goals set for a 25 percent increase in building energy efficiency by 2010 and 50 percent by 2020. These are government goals, but it's the builders who will be tasked to meet them.

Unfortunately, the industry's understanding of the air barrier technology needed to meet these codes and goals is lagging, according to PROSOCO spokesperson, Scott Buscher.

"You don't have to go very far in most communities to see ragged sheet wraps hanging off new construction and flapping in the wind," Buscher said. "That tells me we have some work to do, to keep people from being unpleasantly surprised by new regulations they don't know how to meet."

PROSOCO and Sto Corp. are uniquely positioned in the industry to help construction professionals get up to speed on air barrier technology, according to Buscher. PROSOCO has more than a half-century experience in helping the industry clean, protect and maintain concrete, brick and stone buildings. Sto Corp. has equal expertise in EIFS, stucco and other cladding markets.

"Together, we can reach people with this information that, separately, we wouldn't have a chance of reaching," Buscher said.

The initiative combines AIA presentations, online training programs, and "roadshow" and tradeshow appearances.

"Basically, we're using all the marketing and technical resources of both companies to get the word out," he added. "That includes newsletters, educational articles and participation in groups like the ABAA and the new Building Enclosure Council."



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