How Air Curtains Can Help You Meet Energy Code Requirements

Though it might seem like just another cumbersome type of legislation, energy codes set forth by your local or state government are put in place to help business owners and homeowners save money while also reducing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with building energy usage. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the combination of residential and commercial buildings accounted for approximately 40 percent of all energy consumed in the country. Of that energy use, around 25 percent is used for heating in commercial buildings, and an estimated 48 percent of energy in residential spaces goes towards space heating and cooling. 

Given those statistics, finding strategies to reduce heating and cooling loads for both residential and commercial loads is an essential part of helping the country meet its climate targets, decrease stress on the electricity grid, and facilitate the transition to renewable and “clean” energy sources. As sustainable and energy-efficient building techniques become ever more advanced, energy codes are continually being updated to help builders, homeowners, and other building owners implement the best energy-saving techniques and technologies to lower their overall energy use. 

In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy´s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy office estimates that model energy codes that represent the most energy-efficient building practices and technologies for residential and commercial buildings could potentially save (cumulative 2010-2040):

  • $126 billion energy cost savings
  • 841 million metric tons of avoided carbon dioxide emissions
  • 12.82 quads of primary energy

To give you an idea of how much energy these codes could potentially save, these savings are similar to the annual emissions of 177 million passenger vehicles, 245 coal power plants, or over 89 million homes. 

What do Energy Code Requirements Regulate?

Firstly, it is important to differentiate between energy codes and standards. Energy codes are most often regulated on either a local/municipal or state level. These codes might slightly differ depending on local climate and other contextual situations. A commercial business building in Florida, for example, will not require the same amount of insulation as an office building in Minnesota. Despite the fact that the United States does not have a nationally-mandated energy code for buildings, they do espouse several different energy standards for both commercial and residential buildings in an effort to push the building industry towards more energy-efficient practices. The most commonly referenced model energy codes are the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) for residential buildings and ANSI/ASHRAE/IES Standard 90.1 for commercial buildings (42 USC 6833). 

Both energy codes and standards are put in place in order to set minimum efficiency requirements for new and renovated buildings. This can help to guarantee a minimum of energy use and emissions reductions over the lifespan of the building. These code and standards establish baseline requirements for diverse areas of construction, including wall and ceiling insulation, window and door specifications, HVAC equipment efficiency, lighting fixtures, and more. 

By bringing both residential and commercial buildings into compliance with energy codes, we can reduce power demand, lessen dependence on foreign fossil fuel reserves, mitigate the environmental impact of the energy sector, and also put money back into the pockets of homeowners and business owners. For both commercial and residential buildings, you can check this map provided by the U.S. Department of Energy to determine the status of your state energy code adoption. 

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How Air Curtains or Air Door Influence the Energy Efficiency of a Building 

Whether you have a drafty and under-insulated home or manage a 75,000 square foot commercial building, one strategy to increase the energy efficiency of your home and come into compliance with your local building code is to install an air curtain or air door. Air curtains work by creating an invisible sheet of air that bends and resists thermal exchange over an opening using the building’s internal pressure.  

In the case of businesses that either leave their front doors open to encourage customers passing by to enter or warehouses that operate loading docks where doors remain open for long periods of time, an air curtain can play an extremely important role in lowering the heating and cooling load of a building and thus improving comfort levels inside for both employees and customers. 

Every time a door is opened, a heat exchange occurs with the outside environment. In the colder winter months, the warm air inside your building escapes to the outside, while during the summertime, the cooler conditioned air of your building interior is negatively affected by the hotter outside temperature. In both cases, the warm air rises and passes through the open doors while the cooler air replaces that air at a lower level. As heat exchange occurs, both your heating system and cooling system (depending on the season) will have to work harder and harder to replace the conditioned air. This not only pushes up your monthly energy bills but also drastically increases the carbon footprint of your home or business. 

The solid stream of air provided by an air curtain or air door can help to reduce this heat transfer and energy loss. In fact, one recent study carried out in the cold climate of Finland determined that the best air curtains on the market, such as those provided by Air Door Distributors, have the ability to reduce air leakage through doorways by up to 86 percent. 

Recently, the energy savings provided by air curtains have also been recognized by the leading energy code standards for commercial buildings. In 2019, The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) published a new building standard that will help save energy, construction costs, and space in commercial facilities. The standard allowed for doorway air curtains as an energy-efficient, less-expensive, and space-saving alternative to vestibules on most commercial building entries.

If you are either in the process of building a new commercial building or are undergoing any sort of major renovations or energy-efficient retrofit, air curtains are a simple and effective strategy to lower your energy bills and help your business meet energy code requirements. 

At Air Door Distributors we have 20+ years of experience helping businesses find a solution that will help them save energy and meet strict energy codes and regulations. If you have any questions related to air curtains, we would be happy to answer them. You can reach out to us directly at +1 (866) 402-1642 or fill out our online contact form.

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