The author provides an overview of the 2018 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), discusses how and why the requirements for the building enclosure have changed, and how the current code will impact design and construction. He explores how climate influences design, the need to control air and water in an enclosure assembly, and the rationale behind reducing the percentage of glass on façades.
High-performing commercial buildings are becoming popular because of evolving codes and stricter standards for occupant safety, comfort, and energy efficiency. One can achieve high-performing building envelopes by combining various cavity insulation solutions, such as foam sheathing and insulation behind brick, stucco, concrete, and other cladding systems.
An important function of the building envelope is noise mitigation. Mixed-use buildings offer the benefit of social activities adjacent to habitable units, but spaces such as restaurants and bars will often operate late into the night, and require the ability to generate higher noise levels.
Building industry professionals largely agree on the importance of moisture control methods, but there is frequent confusion about the use of vapor and air barriers. To make the right decision on which methods and materials to include in a building envelope, it is critical to understand the simple, yet significant, differences between air and vapor barriers, and their role as part of an effective system.
Building professionals need to not just anticipate failures, but also understand how structures fail. Exterior wall systems designed to recover when exposed to failure must be employed to make the building envelope truly robust.