Material Selection Conference: Panel Discussion No. 2


Durability + Design is set to launch its inaugural Material Selection Conference, a one-day seminar on Tuesday, Sept. 26, at the Hyatt Regency Pittsburgh International Airport in Pittsburgh. Be sure to register here.

The conference program will be divided into two sessions, featuring panel discussions and presentations. The panel that closes out the second session is titled, “Fluid-Applied Air Barriers: A Panel Discussion on Product and Installation Considerations with Industry Experts,” moderated by David de Sola, principal at 3iVE.


De Sola has developed eight scenarios with specific features and characteristics designed to highlight some of the relevant challenges that designers, manufacturers and installers face when delivering a robust, high-performance integrated air barrier.

Because the materials in a given air barrier assembly often serve multiple functions—including air and vapor barrier, drainage plane and even insulation—detailing can be challenging for designers. Similarly, developing appropriate performance characteristics of these materials is an ongoing challenge for manufacturers. Field conditions—including weather, exposure times, different levels of installer training and ability, sequencing challenges, and integrated observation and test requirements—add additional demands on the system as it is installed by the various subcontractors.

The scenarios address a variety of substrates, differing environmental and field conditions, differing performance requirements, and differing levels of difficulty. Panelists include:

  • Chuck Duffin, the strategic and national accounts manager for coatings and renovation at Sto Corp.;
  • Bill Dunn, the global market manager for GCP Applied Technologies’ Weather Barrier business unit;
  • Tyson Lodge, technical services manager with a focus on building envelope solutions at Sto Corp.;
  • Benjamin Meyer, RA, LEED AP, a building science and sustainability leader with the DuPont Building Knowledge Center;
  • Todd Skopic, CSI, CDT, LEED AP, from the Henry Company; and
  • Russell Snow, CSP, CTR, BSSO, LEED AP, the Building Envelope Product Group manager/building science specialist for W.R. Meadows.

Panel Scenarios

The format for each scenario is as follows.

  • The moderator describes the scenario.
  • Each manufacturer that chooses to respond discusses recommended product solutions.
  • Attendees will be encouraged to ask questions during the presentations.

Common to all scenarios: Unless otherwise noted, projects are high performance and have a high standard of care with observation and exterior testing requirements built into the construction process. Institutional buildings are assumed to have a 50-plus-year service life. Refer to LEED v4 Enhanced Envelope Commissioning requirements for reference.

Scenario 1: New Academic Building in Pittsburgh
Unique challenges: None

A new CMU, three-story, 60,000-square-foot classroom building will be constructed near Pittsburgh. The wall construction will be a cavity wall with a 4-inch air space clad with brick in some areas as well as girt-supported metal panels in others. There will be a combination of single and ganged punched openings as well as multistory curtain wall glazing types. The application of performance materials will take place in the spring and summer.

Scenario 2: New Academic Building in Pittsburgh
Unique challenges: Skilled labor deficit, variable installation temperatures, accelerated schedule, material exposure and stringent testing requirements taking place at the end of the project

A similar project will be constructed as in Scenario 1; however, the project is for three similarly sized school buildings to be built on the same site concurrently.


  • The project is north of Altoona, Pennsylvania, during a time frame in which the labor market is stretched tight and the availability of skilled labor is unpredictable.
  • Application of the performance plane, depending on location, will take place during temperatures ranging from below 20 degrees Fahrenheit to 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Performance materials will be exposed for longer than 60 days in some instances.
  • Although there is the intent for oversight and testing, the remote location of the project allows only periodic third-party verification during construction.
  • An end-of-project whole-building air test is specified with a low allowable leakage of less than 0.1 CFM/minute required by the owner.

Scenario 3: New CMU Building in Pittsburgh
Unique challenges: Single-wythe construction, difficult field conditions

A new high-performance CMU big-box store building will be constructed in Pittsburgh. The exterior wall is single-wythe; there is opportunity to insulate to the interior as there will be a finished gypsum wall hung on studs spaced two inches away from the masonry block wall on the interior side. The owner will accept a coated or uncoated exterior block wall.

There are code requirements for air barrier, vapor barrier and insulation. The block face is expected to be the system’s drainage plane and weather-resistant layer. The schedule will not allow the walls to thoroughly dry prior to applying the treatment. The objective is to achieve stringent code requirements, produce a healthy interior environment, prevent moisture intrusion and achieve long-lasting performance.

Pictured, from left, are panelists Chuck Duffin, Bill Dunn, Tyson Lodge, Benjamin Meyer, Todd Skopic and Russell Snow.

Scenario 4: New High-Design Building in Pittsburgh
Unique challenges: Extremely challenging construction

Architect of Record has been hired to shepherd a new museum in Pittsburgh, a collaborative effort of Frank Gehry, Antoine Predock and the ghost of Zaha Hadid. The building has a rainscreen wall type with collisions of multiple materials including brick, glass, metal panel, pre-cast concrete and curtainwall/skylights. Many of the details and transitions feature sharp angles with varying relationships and support conditions for each assembly.

Scenario 5: Renovation of Stone Church at Ivy League College, Northern New Hampshire
Unique challenges: Establishing code performance requirements on existing structure in extreme climate

An existing historic church located on the campus of a prestigious Ivy League college in northern New England requires renovation. The college insists that the building conform to the strictest energy performance requirements and achieve a 100-year service life. There are four inches available from the backside of the stone to the plane of the interior finish.

Scenario 6: Courthouse in Jacksonville, Florida
Unique challenges: Warm, wet climate, wet installation conditions

A new courthouse will be constructed in Jacksonville, Florida. There will be a CMU backup wall clad with 1½-inch limestone with many instances of solid architectural features including sills, jambs, heads, quoins, and so on.

Scenario 7: Olympic Swimming Pool and Athletics Facility in Seattle
Unique challenges: Humid climate, mold issues

A major university is planning for a new athletic facility built around an Olympic-sized swimming pool. The university has a zero-mold tolerance. The proposed wall type is metal studs with exterior gypsum sheathing clad with metal panels.

Scenario 8: New Climate Studies Library in Yuma, Arizona
Unique challenges: Extremely hot installation and service conditions

An anonymous source has donated $200 million for a new facility aimed to highlight the best building technologies available to adapt to the challenges of climate change. The conditions of the donation include:

  • State-of-the-art building envelope adapted to the challenges of extreme desert climate;
  • Institutional life span: 75 years;
  • Zero carbon emissions; and
  • Conformance with LEED v4 with additional emphasis on interior air quality.

Additionally, the building will be constructed during the summer, when daytime temperatures greater than 120 degrees Fahrenheit are expected.

For more information on the conference, visit


Tagged categories: Air barriers; Building envelope; Building Envelope; Conferences; North America

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