Innovations Spark New Opportunities for Energy Savings
“Tightening standards, expanding testing requirements and increasing client demand have contributed to an environment where energy savings, indoor air quality, and other building performance issues have become a critical consideration in both renovation and new construction projects. Fortunately for progressive contractors, the adoption of innovations and technological breakthroughs are providing new cost-effective opportunities for significantly improving building performance.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), one of the greatest advancements in this area came out of research conducted at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), where scientists were challenged to find a viable solution to duct and ventilation leakage. A problem long understood, but typically ignored, duct leakage is estimated to cost Americans more than $25 billion annually in wasted energy, and much more when the associated costs related poor indoor air quality and other factors are included in the calculations.
Traditional duct sealing in new construction is a labor-intensive, often ineffective procedure. Once the sections of ductwork are assembled and put into place, workers cover the connecting seams with mastic paste or specialized tape. Unfortunately, the ductwork is often difficult to access, and effectively sealing the seams can be challenging at best. Determining the success of the manual sealing process requires time-consuming testing of the duct system, a procedure that is habitually ignored in an effort to save time and expense.
As problematic as duct sealing is in new construction, it’s even more so in existing buildings. Few building owners are willing to approve the demolition required to access ductwork hidden behind walls and other structures. Once the ductwork is exposed, finding and sealing the leaks can be a contractor’s nightmare.
Given these obstacles, duct and ventilation leakage has been all but ignored for decades, and is now generally recognized as a leading cause of poor commercial building performance.”
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