A Green Gab podcast with Marla
The Envelope Please
Paul Springer, of AeroBarrier, sponsor of Green Gab Podcast, brings to the forefront the importance of what is known in the building industry as the “building envelope” and “envelope sealing.”AeroBarrier is an innovative envelope sealing technology that takes the guesswork out of sealing the building envelope.
For lay people, the building envelope is the physical separator between the conditioned and unconditioned environment of a building or home, including the resistance to air, water, light, heat, and noise transfer. Marla thinks of the building envelope as the “skin of the home.” While all structures are designed to breathe and to provide healthy ventilation, the key word is “control.” Sealing the envelope of a structure is the process of controlling the interior climate and atmosphere from unwanted outside influences. Proper air sealing will also minimize temperature differences between rooms. As a result, tight envelopes can maintain a more consistent level of comfort throughout a house or building providing a more comfortable, healthy, and energy efficient environment.
Sealing a home or building’s envelope has been historically achieved through manual applications of hand sealing caulks, tapes and various types of goops. Crossing their fingers and hoping for the best, a contractor or homeowner simply walked around the interior of the structure searching for visible cracks and crevices where some type of sealant was then was applied.
Paul states that AeroBarrier, “takes the guesswork out of the sealing process,” and can be used in new or existing, non-occupied, single and multi-family projects as well as commercial structures. Through their revolutionary automated application, contractors required to meet stringent performance requirements of LEED, ZERH, Passive House, or a state’s IECC, can now do so with no additional labor or loss of time. Therefore, regardless of how tight the building envelope needs to be, AeroBarrier can GUARANTEE it! Regardless of the wide range of each state’s requirements, contractors can now be assured of passing code, which allows builders and homeowners a timely escrow closing.
Chemistry and Physics
AreoBarrier employs a unique combination of chemistry (the sealant), and physics (pressurization). Using a patented AreoBarrier machine, a computer and a blower door, positive pressure is forced inside the structure, blowing a high velocity of air at a high rate of speed into the house or building. The only place for the existing air to go is out through the leaks or gaps.
The beauty of it, Paul states, is that the company has “taken something that has historically been a challenge for builders and made it really easy.”AreoBarrier’s sealant particles, when atomized actually float, suspended in air, which then uses the air to transport the sealant compound directly to the leaks, many of which are hidden behind insulation and drywall. The process requires a change in pressure or velocity for a sealant to start to form, so as air is exiting the house, AreoBarrier’s sealant particles start to coagulate around the gap or crack.
Marla compares this technique to how blood coagulates around a wound. The accuracy of the application lies in the computer’s ability to control the temperature, pressure, humidity, and distribution of sealant allowing full control over the desired level of envelope tightness and leakage reduction.
History and Background
Marla’s first exposure to AreoBarrier was through its parent company AreoSeal; a patented technology process that seals cracks and holes in new and existing air duct systems. A true California garage story, AreoSeal, according to Paul, was developed twenty years ago in the garage of Dr. Mark Modera, a scientist at the University of California. AreoSeal uses a vinyl sealant that once atomized (much like any aerosol product such as hairspray or spray paint), the sealant is air dried and deposited where the leaks are located without coating the inside of the ducts.
Using the same principle as AreoSeal, Dr. Modera through UC Davis, has spent the last four years researching and developing AreoBarrier’s new technology of pressurizing the space and injecting it with an aerosol sealant that then floats and seals fissures in spaces as small as micro-hotels to ten thousand square foot spaces. The unique combination of machines, computers, and sealant is the secret sauce that won AreoBarrier the “Most Innovative” award as well as “Best of Show” at the 2018 International Builders Show (IBS).
Clean, Green and Cost Efficient
While envelope sealing doesn’t sound exciting, the many testimonials found on AreoBarrier’s website affirm the fact that a well-sealed building means improved comfort, health, and safety. Marla notes that breathing air from a well-sealed structure is like breathing air from an oxygen tank compared to breathing air filled with allergens, pollutants, and toxins.
The upfront cost of AreoBarrier’s application is quite a bit different than traditional methods as caulk and tape are cheap. However, the labor costs are significant, the results are radically inferior and there is no guarantees the building will passcode.
In an industry that hasn’t evolved much over the last half-century, building science professionals are embracing AreoBarrier as the most significant envelope-sealing breakthrough in recent years. And when calculating costs, it is important to consider that in approximately 2 hours, a 2-person team from AreoBarrier can achieve 68% better results than 20 hours of manual labor.
AreoBarrier’s system is so precise and efficient, there are none of the usual extra expenses due to additional labor and materials needed, loss of time failed building inspections, failed occupancy permits and missed closing dates, not to mention the ongoing savings from gas, electric and healthcare bills.
Certifications AreoBarrier’s technology is especially useful for builders targeting sealing requirements of LEED, Passive House (iPHA), ZERH, and/or the IECC. They not only assist builders and homeowners in being more energy efficient but they go about it in a very responsible way. All AreoBarrier products carry the GREENGUARD Gold standard, which has some of the world’s most stringent and comprehensive standards.Meaning that unlike many traditional building processes and products, AreoBarrier sealants and applications provide good indoor air quality with low VOC emissions.
Marla and Paul agree that a vital step in owning a Green Certified Home is by procuring a well-insulated structure that doesn’t depend on the energy load of a heating and cooling system. The type of home that primarily uses solar energy, the kind of home you can “heat with a hairdryer.” Admittedly, a homeowner may pay a bit more upfront but it pales in comparison to the return on the investment over time and the positive impact on future generations through good stewardship of our environment. To calculate the true costs and benefits of AreoBarrier’s services, Marla suggests listening to the Green Gab Podcast called – Do You Know Your Total Home Ownership Cost? This episode educates listeners about a tool called Project TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) that analyzes the difference between the price of an asset and its long-term cost.
Paul emphasizes the way to achieve “a more energy efficient solution, a higher quality solution and a higher level of comfort and health for your home is to build a better envelope for your house and AreoBarrier is the solution that can do that.”
In closing, Marla extends a heartfelt thank you to Paul and his associates at AreoBarrier for being a sponsor of the Green Gab Podcast and for contributing to the health, wellness, and sustainability of individuals, families and the environment.