The NFPA 285 Fire Test’s Impact On Architectural Design And Energy Performance

Apr 13, 2015

The 2012 International Building Code requirement that exterior wall assemblies of type I, II, III or IV construction containing certain combustible materials pass the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 285 fire test has had and will continue to have a significant impact on the design of exterior walls. This has affected the design profession and the durability and energy performance of exterior walls. The uncertainty of designers as to how to respond to the previously unclear regulations and new enforcement situation is a concern. This paper addresses how this requirement has impacted the commercial, institutional, and multi-family residential construction industries. Aspects of the problem: (1) The response of manufacturers to the code requirement; (2) The difficulty of providing competitive specifications; (3) The uncertainty regarding how to make wall assemblies that meet NFPA 285 weathertight; (4) The resultant uncertainty regarding fire safety due to assemblies not being constructed as tested.

(This entry contains a conference paper and presentation in PDF. For optimal viewing, open in Adobe Acrobat Reader.)

Richard Keleher, AIA, Thompson & Lichter Company, Canton, MA
BEST4 Conference proceedings
Presented at: 
BEST4 Conference
Published & professionally reviewed by: 
BEST4 Technical Committee, National Institute of Building Sciences

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