Dollar Leakage: The Cost of Air and Moisture Penetration into Buildings

June 21, 2017

Developing proper airtight envelopes in new-builds is now more urgent than ever as global temperatures are rising. The weather in this region plays a unique and significant role in building energy consumption, as it directly affects the cooling demand of the buildings - in other words, directly affects how much it costs to cool.

The main factors that influence building energy consumption:
• Climate conditions
• Building envelope quality and integrity
• Operation and maintenance
• Occupancy behaviour

Infiltration / Exfiltration: 
Of the factors above, climate conditions arguably play the most significant role in energy performance. Air Leakage is one of the fundamental maintenance factors that cause infiltration/exfiltration. Infiltration can be defined as ‘the leaking or movement of air through the cracks, gaps and other openings in the building.’

Studies prove that considerable amount of infiltration is due to poor air tightness in the building envelope. One of the major consequences of this is that the inside temperature will increase and building users try to compensate for this by turning up the internal air conditioning, resulting in increased energy consumption of the building. This is the crux of the ‘dollar leakage’ concept.

Poor air tightness also creates more other expensive problems, such as: 
• Instant and continuous disruption to the HVAC system
• A much higher risk of spreading unhealthy airbourne particles
• An increase in the indoor humidity level which, if left untreated, leads directly to moist air transfer into the building that creates problems such as mould, rusting and rot in the inside environment.

 

Read the full article in the latest issue of The Big 5 Hub.

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