A porous building envelope makes the building vulnerable to a phenomenon known as the chimney effect (or stack effect). This results in huge energy losses and may cause discomfort to building occupants. An effective way to resolve this issue is to compartmentalize your building.

What is compartmentalization?

The first step of this technique requires sealing of all openings in floors and stairwells in order to eliminate air movement between floors. The second step is to seal the building envelop to make it watertight. This eliminates the chimney effect, which is caused by penetration of cold air at the base of the building. Once the air is warm, it rises toward the upper floors and escapes through the various gaps of the poorly sealed envelope.

Compartmentalization also eradicates wind and pressure differential effects. The former is caused by the presence of external lateral winds, which create areas of high and low pressure on a building. Consequently, air infiltrates or escapes to compensate for the incoming or outgoing airflow. The latter is often the result of positive pressure created by the ventilation system. Thus, pressurized air leaks through the gaps in the envelope.

Groupe Fenestra | Compartmentalization
Groupe Fenestra | Compartmentalization

How does air escape?

Air infiltration and exfiltration usually occur at the edges of doors and windows, behind electric baseboards, around electrical outlets and other building outlets specifically designed for mechanical systems and components. They usually occur when there is a temperature difference between indoor and outdoor air.

Positive and negative pressure

When the building’s inside pressure is positive, heat is pushed out. If the pressure is negative, the cold penetrates inside, which causes an increase of energy consumption.

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