Artificial intelligence (AI) policy: ASHRAE prohibits the entry of content from any ASHRAE publication or related ASHRAE intellectual property (IP) into any AI tool, including but not limited to ChatGPT. Additionally, creating derivative works of ASHRAE IP using AI is also prohibited without express written permission from ASHRAE.

logoShaping Tomorrow's Built Environment Today

ASHRAE Research Project 1696

ASHRAE Research Project 1696

Determining New Building and Insulating Materials’ Thermal, Moisture, Air Transport Property Values

From ASHRAE Journal Newsletter, October 27, 2020 

Many building codes and standards require simulation and modeling of building energy use and hygrothermal performance for building enclosure assemblies. But budget and time constraints prevent the determination of specific material properties for many modeling projects. Consultants rely on material property data included in computer program databases and other published resources.

ASHRAE Research Project 1696, Thermal, Moisture and Air Transport Property Values for New Building and Insulating Materials, aimed to generate material property data for new and updated building and insulation materials.

RDH Building Science Laboratories researchers, Chris Schumacher, Member ASHRAE; Claire Lepine, Associate Member ASHRAE; Jonathan Smegal; and Dr. John Straube, Ph.D., P.Eng., Associate Member ASHRAE, discuss the project.

1. What is the significance of this research?

The purpose of ASHRAE Research Project 1696 was to update and add hygrothermal material property data to Chapter 26, Heat, Air, and Moisture Control in Building Assemblies—Material Properties, of  ASHRAE Handbook—Fundamentals. The study considered a variety of new and existing construction products.

As the design and construction industries evolve, performance requirements, building materials, systems and construction methods change as well. Through this project, ASHRAE sought to support practitioners by providing up-to-date data for a range of common materials.

2. How does this research further the industry's knowledge on this topic?

The industry’s knowledge is furthered through updated material data and through the improvement of test methodology. Through this research, we were able to quantify new material parameters, including liquid transport properties measured along different axes of anisotropic materials (i.e., perpendicular and parallel to the face of fiber cement cladding products).

We also modified and adapted test methods to address new types of materials. For example, we adapted the air pressure decay method of ASTM E2930, Standard Practice for Pressure Decay Leak Test Method, to facilitate measurement of airflow through extremely airtight test specimens, including roofing underlay materials and fluid-applied water-resistant barriers (WRB) on exterior gypsum sheathing.

3. What lessons, facts, and/or guidance can an engineer working in the field take away from this research?

As the industry increasingly uses computer programs (e.g. hygrothermal simulation models) to support design and analysis, there is a growing need for organized and reliable model inputs. Where project-specific material property data is not available, ASHRAE Handbook—Fundamentals provides hygrothermal data on a wide range of common materials, making practical hygrothermal simulations possible.

4. Were there any surprises or unforeseen challenges for you when preparing this research?

The biggest challenge in a project like Research Project 1696 is keeping track of samples and testing. About 1,500 samples were prepared and more than 5,000 tests were completed during this project. By assigning a point person the responsibility of tracking these samples and tests, we successfully managed this large volume of work.

When we first sought to acquire some test materials, we reached out to manufacturers and distributors. Their willingness to support the project through the donation of materials and products was an eye-opener. Although the results are made anonymous and the manufacturers don’t receive any of the results, there were many who were more than willing to participate and support the project. It’s a great community!

5. What are the next steps to further this research?

The Research Project 1696 final report includes several recommendations for further work. These include:

  • regular updates to the ASHRAE Handbook—Fundamentals material property tables
  • continued investigation and documentation of the air, vapor and water control properties of preformed and fluid-applied water-resistant barriers
  • further development and formalization of test methods to address challenging materials and properties (e.g., liquid transport through coatings on various substrates).

Finally, we suggested that efforts be undertaken to review and consolidate academic literature on material hygrothermal performance, as these would serve to unify industry efforts, improve communication and increase the cost-effectiveness of future material property research and reporting projects such as Research Project 1696.