June 2017

Air Tightness in Buildings

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Status: Advanced online registration is now closed. Please email Tonya Hyde at [email protected] to inquire about space availability.
Date: Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Time: 8:00 AM–8:30 AM: Registration and Breakfast
8:30 AM–12:00 PM: Air Tightness in Buildings
Location: The Italian Cultural Centre Society, (Trattoria Hall), 3075 Slocan Street Vancouver, BC
Presenter: Mark Lawton
Vice President, Building Science Division, Morrison Hershfield

Chris Higgins
Green Building Planner, City of Vancouver

Lorne Ricketts 
Associate and Building Science Engineer, RDH Building Science Inc.

Colin Genge
CEO, Retrotec
Credit: 3.5 Informal Professional Development Hours (PDH)
Cost: Early Bird Price : $75.00 + GST = $78.75 until June 07, 2017 

Regular Price: $85.00 + GST = $89.25
Please Note: *A minimum number of registrations are needed by June 07, 2017 to proceed with this seminar. Please register early to avoid cancellation.
**All prices are subject to applicable taxes.
This half-day seminar will be taking a holistic look at air barriers and air leakage. First, we will look at the history of air barriers, and will review the science behind it and the significances and/or consequences of its introduction back in the late 70's and early 80's. We will then hear about the new City of Vancouver policy surrounding new building air tightness requirements, a policy that is somewhat mirrored in the BC Step Code. To complement this, we will also review lessons learned from the introduction of similar requirements in other jurisdictions, in particular the City of Seattle. We will conclude by looking at the whole building air leakage testing, including the set up and the equipment needed. This event is jointly presented with the British Columbia Building Envelope Council (BCBEC).

Session Agenda

Air Leakage Control in Buildings: A Canadian History

8:30 AM – 9:40 AM: Mark Lawton from Morrison Hershfield

Control of air leakage in buildings has been an obsession of Canadian building science for about four decades. In the last decade, we are seeing regulators from other regions of the world come to the realization of how important air leakage control is for building durability and conservation of energy. As we are confronted with new standards for air leakage control, it is worth reminding ourselves of what we have learned on the journey from building science to building practice.

Air Tightness as a Strategy for Heathier, More Comfortable, and Energy Efficient Buildings

9:40 AM – 10:00 AM: Chris Higgins from City of Vancouver

The City of Vancouver has goals under its Greenest City Strategy for all new Vancouver buildings to run on 100% renewable energy by 2050. Part of that strategy is reducing energy use in new buildings and improving air tightness with testing and attention to a well-constructed air barrier. This presentation will cover air tightness requirements and the context of why specific goals have been chosen. 

Break: 10:00 AM – 10:15 AM

Building and Testing Airtight Buildings: Impact and Lessons Learned

10:15 AM – 11:15 AM: Lorne Ricketts from RDH

As part of initiatives to reduce building energy consumption and associated greenhouse gas emission, both provincial and Vancouver building regulations have recently adopted whole building airtightness testing. This presentation will cover the impact that these types of regulations have had in other jurisdictions with respect to design, construction, and performance while reflecting on lessons learned. The new Illustrated Guide to Achieving Airtight Buildings will also be discussed.

Air Leakage Testing of Large Buildings Looks Like This

11:15 AM – 12:00 PM: Colin Genge from Retrotec

Air tightness measurement is fast becoming the standard procedure in determining the performance of new buildings. We have benefitted greatly by having over 8,000 high rise buildings tested in the US and Canada in the past few years. Testing technology has improved with specialized hardware, software, and information networking. This live demonstration will show attendees how to use specialized software in order to control multiple fans and record all the data automatically. You do not have to be a software engineer; the software makes all the decisions.


Mark Lawton
Vice President, Building Science Division, Morrison Hershfield

Mark Lawton is a professional engineer with over 30 years of experience in building performance assessment, forensic investigation, testing, and design. Currently a resident in Vancouver, Mark’s career has included projects in all kinds of climate regimes from the arctic to the tropics. He is widely published on building science issues including: durability and performance of building enclosure assemblies, moisture control, indoor air quality, ventilation, and managing the health impacts of mold in buildings. 

Chris Higgins
Green Building Planner, City of Vancouver

Chris Higgins has developed a number of successful programs that overcome market barriers and result in lower energy buildings. He possesses a well-developed knowledge of energy use in residential buildings and has the experience to know the policy triggers to encourage action. Chris is a spokesperson at national conferences and to various media outlets. He presently sits on the board of directors for Passive House Canada. 

Lorne Ricketts
Associate and Building Science Engineer, RDH Building Science Inc.

Lorne Ricketts specializes in new construction, investigation, and research work with typical projects including designing building enclosure systems, hydrothermal and thermal analysis, and testing and monitoring of building performance. Lorne recently led a project with BC Housing, BC Hydro, and the City of Vancouver to develop the Illustrated Guide to Achieving Airtight Buildings.

Colin Genge
CEO, Retrotec

Colin Genge is CEO of Retrotec, a Washington State-based company that has been designing, selling, and training users of blower door-fans, precision pressure gauges, and analytical software since 1980. He has made major contributions to door-fan energy standards such as US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Canada’s CGSB 149. Colin has done considerable research on testing methods for high rise buildings and has consulted and tested hundreds of the world’s most exotic high value facilities, including the Space Shuttle launch pad, numerous military installations, and the world’s most sophisticated computer rooms.

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