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Volume 11, Issue 5
May 9, 2013
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Engineering Updates

Qualifying brick masonry as an air barrier in the Commercial Energy Code clears first of two hurdles

 

The first round of the code development hearings which will result in the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and the 2015 International Residential Code (IRC) were recently completed in Dallas, Texas. Many proposed changes to the IECC and IRC which involve issues critical to the brick industry were discussed before a committee consisting of building officials, designers and builders for each of the above codes. After hearing testimony for each proposed code change, each committee proceeded to make a recommendation for each change of Approval as Submitted (AS), Approval as Modified (AM), or Disapproval (D). These recommendations will only become a part of the 2015 edition once they have been heard again and enacted upon at the second round of hearings which will occur in the fall of 2013. Overall, the committee recommended in favor of the position taken by the brick industry on nearly all of the code changes that the brick industry had an interest in. Most importantly, the IECC committee recommended and supported two code changes submitted by the brick industry to qualify brick masonry as an air barrier according to the IECC Commercial Provisions as detailed further below.


NBRC Testing: Clay Brick Air Permeance Testing
The National Brick Research Center (NBRC) funded and conducted testing on the air permeance of brick masonry which supported and substantiated the air barrier code changes referred to below. This testing demonstrated conclusively that brick masonry can qualify as an air barrier as both a material and as a wall assembly as designated by the IECC Commercial Provisions. The results of this testing were published by NBRC in a one-page Clay Brick Air Permeance Testing Handout which was distributed at the IECC code development hearing and a more extensive 19-page Clay Brick Air Permeance Testing Report which was referenced by the handout.

 

IECC Code Change Designation:   CE173-13
Committee Recommendation:   Approval as Modified (AM)
Below is the final version of the code change proposal qualifying masonry made of clay or shale units as a material that is deemed-to-comply as an air barrier by the IECC Commercial Provisions. The original code change which was submitted prior to completion of the NBRC testing indicated that the clay or shale units had to be fully grouted. Once NBRC testing was completed and demonstrated that the grout was not needed for the masonry to qualify as an air barrier, the modified version was developed removing the requirement for fully grouted units. This version was then introduced during the first IECC hearing. The IECC Energy Committee voted 7-2 to recommend Approved as Modified (AM) for the code change shown below.


Revise as follows:


402.4.1.2.1 Materials. Materials with an air permeability no greater than 0.004 cfm/ft2 (0.02 L/s•m2) under a pressure differential of 0.3 in. water (w.g.)(75 Pa) when tested in accordance with ASTM E2178 shall comply with this section. Materials in items 1 through 16 15 shall be deemed to comply with this section provided joints are sealed and materials are installed as air barriers in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

  1. Plywood with a thickness of not less than 3/8 inch (10 mm).
  2. Oriented strand board having a thickness of not less than 3/8 inch (10 mm).
  3. Extruded polystyrene insulation board having a thickness of not less than 1/2 inch (12 mm).
  4. Foil-back polyisocyanurate insulation board having a thickness of not less than 1/2 inch (12 mm).
  5. Closed cell spray foam a minimum density of 1.5 pcf (2.4 kg/m3) having a thickness of not less than 1-1/2 inches (36 mm).
  6. Open cell spray foam with a density between 0.4 and 1.5 pcf (0.6 and 2.4 kg/m3) and having a thickness of not less than 4.5 inches (113 mm).
  7. Exterior or interior gypsum board having a thickness of not less than 1/2 inch (12 mm).
  8. Cement board having a thickness of not less than 1/2 inch (12 mm).
  9. Built up roofing membrane.
  10. Modified bituminous roof membrane.
  11. Fully adhered single-ply roof membrane.
  12. A Portland cement/sand parge, or gypsum plaster having a thickness of not less than 5/8 inch (16 mm).
  13. Cast-in-place and precast concrete.
  14. Fully grouted concrete block masonry.
  15. Sheet steel or aluminum.
  16. Solid or hollow masonry constructed of clay or shale masonry units.

 

IECC Code Change Designation:   CE175-13
Committee Recommendation:   Approval as Submitted (AS)
Below is the original version of the code change proposal qualifying masonry made of clay or shale units as a wall assembly that is deemed-to-comply as an air barrier by the IECC. The IECC Energy Committee voted 7-2 to recommend Approved as Submitted (AS) for the code change shown below.


Revise as follows:


402.4.1.2.2 Assemblies. Assemblies of materials and components with an average air leakage not to exceed 0.04 cfm/ft2 (0.2 L/s•m2) under a pressure differential of 0.3 inches of water gauge (w.g.)( 75 Pa) when tested in accordance with ASTM E 2357, ASTM E 1677 or ASTM E 283 shall comply with this section. Assemblies listed in items 1 through 3 and 2 shall be deemed to comply provided joints are sealed and requirements of Section 402.4.1.1 are met.

 

  1. Concrete masonry walls coated with either one application either of block filler or and two applications of a paint or sealer coating;
  2. Masonry walls constructed of clay or shale masonry units with a nominal width of 4-inches or more;
  3. 2. A Portland cement/sand parge, stucco or plaster minimum 1/2 inch (12 mm) in thickness.

 

Please be aware that the effort to recognize and demonstrate that brick masonry can be an air barrier according to the IECC Commercial Provisions involved many individuals and organizations including:

 

  1. Technical Personnel of NBRC and BIA Members – Thank you for lending your expertise and professional acumen.
  2. NBRC and BIA Member Companies – Thank you for supplying the brick and mortar to build the wall specimens.
  3. John Sanders and NBRC – Thank you for funding and conducting the research in an expedited manner, for writing and editing the 19-page Clay Brick Air Permeance Testing report and for developing the one-page Clay Brick Air Permeance Testing Handout.
  4. Bryan Light and BIA-Southeast – Thank you for overseeing the construction of the 20 wall specimens.
  5. Chip Clark and BIA – Developed, submitted and argued for code changes at IECC hearings.

 

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Chip Clark of BIA cclark@bia.org or 703-674-1531.

 

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