20 August

How to specify a wall assemby that passes NFPA 285

Recent changes in commercial wall assembly design are resulting in increased energy efficiency, but also new challenges to meeting fire safety provisions in building code. Here’s an example. When projects call for an airtight building envelope, designers typically choose 40-mil-thick sheet membranes made from rubberized asphalt or synthetic rubber. The same qualities that make these membranes superior water and vapor barriers also make them highly flammable.

Significant changes in the 2012 editions of the International Building Code (IBC) and the International Fire Code (IFC) require new wall assemblies containing plastic foam insulation and combustible weather barriers to pass the key standard NFPA 285. Until now designers faced a dilemma: do they specify wall assemblies containing the most energy-efficient air and vapor barriers, or do they specify wall assemblies that can pass the NFPA fire test?

Specifying Air Barrier Membranes that Comply with Building Code Fire Safety Provisions is a new continuing education course that can answer these and many other questions about sustainable design. Offered free through AEC Daily Online Learning Center, the 45-minute course focuses on air barrier membranes and the proper integration of these materials into fire-safe wall assemblies. It discusses six basic elements of fire safety in building construction and shows handy references like “List of Wall Assemblies Passing NFPA 285.” The course was written by Brian Carey, building envelope product manager for Carlisle Coatings & Waterproofing, and ABAA board member.  Go here to register.

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