This is not a metaphor; there is an actual ill wind blowing through the Australian building sector. It’s because Australian’s build some of the leakiest buildings of the developed world. Recent research indicates that Australian buildings have much higher air leakage rates than similar buildings in the US and Europe. In many cases, the leakage rate was six times greater than the recommended level (and in many cases, much higher). This issue was prevalent across all building types and building ages.
In many countries standards for building envelope, air barrier integrity is regulated. Unfortunately, Australia lags behind much of the world in this area. In Europe and the US, the integrity of the building envelope air barrier is considered and assessed at every stage of the design and construction process.
This allows our European and American counterparts to deliver more efficient and comfortable buildings than we do in Australia, in spite of the fact that these buildings are often exposed to more extreme climatic changes than we experience.
The prime reason for assessing and (if necessary) repairing a building envelope air
barrier is for the comfort of occupants. An efficient building envelope air barrier is key to air quality and helps reduce dust, pollen, pollutants, and moisture entering a building thereby reducing the effects these pollutants have on building occupants.
Fix the problem without using all your funds
The other key reason for assessing and (if necessary) repairing a building envelope air barrier is energy efficiency. Maintaining building envelope air tightness has been identified as a crucial step in helping buildings achieve higher energy efficiency and is promoted by many of Australia’s most forward thinking councils. One such initiative is Melbourne City Council’s MCC1200 Buildings Programme.
For buildings looking to improve energy accreditation, rental rates, and building values, building envelope air barrier assessment and retrofitting is a ‘quick win.’ For building occupants building envelope air barrier assessment and retrofitting can improve the quality of their lives.