The control of air flow is a crucial and intrinsic part of heat and moisture control in building enclosures in all climates. A large fraction of a modern, well-insulated building's space conditioning energy load is due to uncontrolled air leakage. Wintertime condensation of water vapour in exfiltrating air (or summertime condensation of infiltrating air) within assemblies is one of the two major sources of moisture in the above-grade enclosure (driving rain being the other). Air flow through the enclosure can also carry the spores generated by mould within the wall into the air and thereby create health problems. Uncontrolled air leakage through the enclosure is therefore often a major cause of performance (e.g. comfort, health, energy, durability, etc.) problems.
Therefore, there are three primary reasons why the control of air flow is important to building performance:
There are other circumstances that require the control of air flow; for example, smoke and fire spread control through air spaces and building voids and shafts and airborne sound transmission control requires good airflow control. The flow of undesirable or dangerous odours, gases, and fumes between zones within buildings (e.g., the parking garage and the office) and between the exterior and interior (e.g., between a busy street and a classroom) must also be controlled.
Click here to learn more from Dr. Straube's paper, Air Flow Control -- Beyond Just Air Barriers.