New Rules for Vestibules

Does anyone give a second thought about walking through the set of double doors at entrances to commercial buildings? Well, let’s see…

…The developer might, because that vestibule sitting between the two sets of doors added costs to the construction plans.

…The business owner might, because that vestibule space consumes valuable floor space that could be used for, you guessed it, selling products!

…The nearby cashier might, because despite its intent to provide a buffer between the exterior and interior temperatures, wind continues to blow through when both sets of vestibule doors open at the same time.

…The facility maintenance person might, because now there are double sets of doors to keep in safe, working order.

… The Insurance Companies might, because there are many lawsuits associated with doors hitting customers.

That was then – This is now…

In 2013, the movers and shakers behind the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) stopped in their tracks and said, hey, wait a minute. Do we really need vestibules across the board, in all commercial construction projects, in nearly every climate zone in this country? As a result of this inquiry, the IECC Vestibule Exception was born.

There had already been some provisions for vestibule exception in place, such as buildings in Climate Zones 1 and 2, representing the extreme lower portion of the U.S. and outlaying islands; doors not intended to be used by the public; doors opening directly from a sleeping or dwelling unit; doors that open from a space less than 3,000 square feet in area; and at revolving doors.

To put this in perspective, a large, leading office supply store could be upwards of 12,000 to 23,000 square feet in area, while chain discount stores average between 8,000 and 11,500 square feet in area.

While air curtains are utilized in vestibules as added protection against the elements (and even with revolving doors), the IECC decreed that air curtains do have a more singular role in maintaining climate control at customer entryways. Therefore, that body agreed that effective with the 2015 Code, air curtains can be installed as an alternative to a vestibule when the following requirements are met:

  1. Doors that have an air curtain with a minimum velocity of 2 m/s at the floor
  2. That have been tested in accordance with ANSI/AMCA 220
  3. Installed in accordance to the manufacturer’s instructions
  4. Manual or automatic controls shall be provided that will operate the air curtain with the opening and closing of the door.
  5. Air curtains and their controls shall comply with Section C408.2.3


Powered Aire’s Commitment

To meet this new industry need, Powered Aire put its R&D into high gear and introduced a series of air curtains designed specifically for vestibule exception. Both the ETA (exposed model) and CHA (in-ceiling model) have been tested in accordance with ANSI/AMCA and meet the criteria for this application.

Additionally, both models are the first in the industry to be AMCA approved in their electrically heated versions!


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