Reducing Duct Leakage Key Goal of Latest Updates To Industry Standards For Green Building

New duct sealing methods provide a demolition-free way to easily meet tightening duct sealing specifications

As duct testing becomes more prevalent, breakthrough technologies like aeroseal duct sealing are becoming essential.

Attendees of an Aeroseal LLC-sponsored webinar entitled Changing Code and the Importance of Duct Sealing learned today of an imminent change to green building standards that tightens regulatory guidelines for duct testing. The latest version of ASHRAE 189.1, the Standard for the Design of High-Performance Green Buildings, will expand duct testing requirements to include low pressure ducts as well as high pressure ducts. Proponents of this change say the update is intended to reflect the significant impact that duct leakage – even in low pressure ductwork – can have on energy use and overall building performance.

According to Jeff Boldt, a voting member of the ASHRAE 189.1 committee and director of innovation and quality at IMEG Corp., the latest updates to ASHRAE 189.1 are finalized and have been incorporated into the standard where they are undergoing a final accuracy review before publication. A key update to that standard is the broadening of duct leakage testing to include ducts operating at 3-inch WG (water gauge), which is more inclusive than the current requirement of leakage testing for ducts operation at ≥4-inch WG.

“I spearheaded this update because of concerns that it is very rare to have ducts greater than 4-inch pressure class to be used today, while it was very common when the original requirement was to test the leakage of ducts greater than 3-inch WG pressure class. This resulted in much less leak testing today, while standard 189.1 is attempting to reduce energy use,” said Boldt.

Attendees of the webinar reviewed evidence from several studies that indicate that, on average, lower-pressure 3-inch WG ducts leak as much as eight times more than 4-inch pressure class ducts. The implication is that this is because they have not been subject to leak testing. By broadening the requirements to include lower-pressure ducts, the ASHRAE committee hopes the new standard will have a positive impact on reducing average energy consumption of U.S. buildings.

“The industry…

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