Air Control Layer
The importance of an effective air control layer cannot be underestimated, but unfortunately it is often disregarded or misunderstood. Without an effective air control layer, your building is unlikely to meet your criteria for comfort, energy performance, or durability.
The movement of air is constant in and around our buildings. The role of the air control layer is to prevent the uncontrolled transfer of indoor and outdoor air in the building enclosure.
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The air control layer is typically composed of a variety of different materials that are designed to meet the particular needs of the climate and conditions in a particular location in the building enclosure.
Occupant health — Uncontrolled air exchange through the building enclosure results in the infiltration of air carrying particulates (dust, pollen, vehicle exhaust), chemicals (off-gassing from building materials or adjacent garages), and organic content (mold, bacteria, viruses, and excrement from insects and rodents) into the building. This contaminated air can significantly impact the indoor air quality, with mild to severe health effects.
Discomfort — Uncontrolled exchange of indoor and outdoor air results in occupant
The air barrier is where air from inside or outside the building is stopped; it can be located to either the interior (shown here) or exterior of the assembly, or both.
Airtightness is important — There is a common misconception that it is possible to make a building “too airtight.” The importance of airtightness for comfort, occupant health and safety, thermal performance, and building durability cannot be overstated: No benefits come from intentionally allowing air leakage.