Whole Building Airtightness Testing (WBAT), often referred to as “blower door testing”, is at the forefront of building performance verification. Building airtightness is critical, as it impacts energy usage, indoor air quality, moisture control, durability and more. Blower door testing has been adopted widely in residential codes for years and has gained considerable momentum in commercial space in recent years, with mandates by many jurisdictions, government/military projects, building certification programs, and building owners.
The common misconception in the commercial construction space is that WBAT is typically only a requirement for high-performance building construction. It will soon be required for all new construction, as the benefits reach far beyond energy efficiency. The industry is responding, and the building code is rapidly changing. It will no longer be limited to residential construction, isolated “early adoption” jurisdictions, government, and high-performance building projects. Don’t fear the change. SBP is here to help!
Critics commonly express that the test happens “too late” to correct performance issues. Don’t be afraid! There are many ways to correct issues to meet airtightness requirements at the end of the project, without major deconstruction. This should not be an excuse to avoid WBAT. That said, finding the concealed issues before they cause catastrophic failures is paramount. More comprehensive rework now may save thousands or even millions of dollars in extensive remediation efforts, tenant displacement, or having to stop building operation. WBAT is the only functional performance test that can evaluate the integrity of the completed building enclosure. Conversely, if you are dealing with a building that has performance issues, SBP can investigate and help determine causation with WBAT and diagnostic air leakage site detection techniques, including infrared thermography.
Also see SBP Building Enclosure Group, Building Enclosure Consulting and Building Enclosure Commissioning (BECx) service offerings for more comprehensive consulting service offerings and additional information.
If your team or project is apprehensive about meeting performance targets for WBAT or simply wants to learn more about WBAT, consider SBP as a trusted partner to guide your team to a successful test and project.
Sustainable Building Partners (SBP), Building Enclosures Group has staff with over a decade of residential and large building whole building airtightness (“blower door”) testing experience with all building types and sizes. We are among the industry leaders in the blower door testing space. Our involvement with Air Barrier Association of America (ABAA), specifically the Whole Building Airtightness Testing Task Group has allowed SBP staff to become integral to the review and development of the ABAA, Whole Building Airtightness Technician Program for large buildings. SBP staff are part of select group of experts that are qualified as trainers for the ABAA training program.
Industry Test Standards: