Airtight Building Construction: Creating a Seal with Fabric Solutions
One of the advantages of fabric buildings is increased energy efficiency. It is well-known that the natural light that comes in through the walls and ceiling allows for significant savings on lighting costs inside the building.
But natural light isn’t the only energy-related advantage of fabric buildings. Durable fabric cladding also provides an airtight building solution, which reduces heating and cooling costs throughout the lifespan of the building.
How Do Fabric Buildings Reduce Energy Costs?
Legacy’s fabric buildings are constructed with ExxoTec™ PVC fabric cladding. Individual fabric panels are permanently welded together and attached to the building frame via a keder rail – which provides a continuous attachment to the building frame without fasteners, and without the possibility of friction wearing away at the building materials.
Steel building are made of steel panels that are bolted together and to the building frame. The thousands of tiny fasteners and holes used to construct steel buildings are a common source of air leakage.
Every natural air change fights against the efficiency of the climate control system and increases the building’s heating and cooling costs. Fabric buildings use an airtight construction system without penetrations around fasteners, which prevent the flow of air in and out of the building.
Fabric Building Insulation and Ventilation
Insulation is also available for occupied buildings or applications where climate control is important. Insulation combined with a fabric liner makes an airtight, comfortable building that is suitable for year-round use in any conditions.
Legacy’s insulated buildings contain an inner fabric liner which protects the insulation and provides a continuous vapor barrier, creating a superior building envelope. Insulation rests on this inner fabric liner, leaving the airspace necessary between the insulation and the outer membrane of the building to provide proper natural ventilation of the attic cavity.
Fabric buildings are tightly sealed around doors, windows, ventilation systems and other necessary openings. The fabric panels are precisely cut and sealed around openings without fasteners. Heating and cooling systems work much more efficiently in an airtight building. This equates to energy cost savings.
Many steel building manufacturers use batten insulation that is taped together at seams to try and create an airtight building. Time, friction and moisture cause the taped joints of the insulation to degrade – allowing air and moisture to flow through the insulation.
Fabric Building Air Infiltration Test Results
Recently, Legacy Building Solutions commissioned an air infiltration test at a multi-sport facility in Kimball, Minnesota. The audit results showed good news for fabric buildings. Alan Christenson of Red Door Energy Auditing said this:
“After conducting the blower door test (air infiltration test) on an athletic complex built by Legacy Building Solutions, Inc.
The result was an impressive 0.92 ACH (air changes per hour).
…The Legacy Building Solutions building is 69% more efficient than what this code is asking for.
Compared to a steel framed building of this same size the Legacy Building Solutions project was 157% more efficient.”
Every measure of increased efficiency directly correlates with dollars saved on heating and cooling, as well as increased comfort inside the building.
The building tested is used for indoor sports practices and activities at a public high school. The energy-efficient structure will give the school district years of cost savings while allowing teams to practice year-round in comfort.