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October 3rd, 2019

Airtightness requirements for high performance building envelopes

Especially for high performance buildings, which go beyond national energy performance requirements, infiltration losses become a significant factor for the energy performance. This information paper presents an overview on the existing building surface airtightness requirements in different European countries and compares them to the requirements for high performance buildings. Airtightness measurement results of realised high-performance buildings show what can be achieved in practice.


1 > What is a high-performance building? Buildings that do not only fulfill the national requirements, but are designed to use considerably less energy, are often called high performance buildings. There are different terms used in this area, from low energy building over passive houses and 3-litre houses to zero energy or zero emission buildings and many more. An information paper soon available on the Buildings Platform summarises the used terms and definitions as well as the currently realised number of high-performance buildings in the EU Member States. Though the definitions of the various types of high-performance buildings differ from each other, the very most of them imply a building airtightness that is better than for regular buildings.

2 > Existing building envelope airtightness requirements in the EU Member States The implementation of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) has caused in most of the EU Member States more severe requirements for the energy demand of buildings. In order to meet these requirements, not only buildings components with better U-values and more efficient building systems have to be used, also the ventilation losses have to be reduced. A contribution to this necessary reduction is the improvement of the building envelope airtightness, mainly the airtightness of building components and joints. With the EPBD implementation or even before some of the countries have included minimum airtightness requirements in their building codes.


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