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.
What does it take for gymnasiums or buildings with wide-open interior spaces to achieve a platinum certification under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating program? With a floor area of 700 m2 (7500 sf) and a ceiling height of 7.3 m (24 ft), a typical high school or junior college gym has a vast interior space to heat or cool—approximately 5100 m3 (180,000 cf) of volume—so an ultra-energy-efficient envelope is crucial.1
The conversation about the cavity in masonry wall systems, to say the least, is ongoing. There is a general agreement on the need for separation between the backside of the veneer and the exterior face of the structural backup wall. However, there is some discussion about the functions this cavity performs and their prioritization.