Pushing the Building Envelope: Sustainable Facade Systems with James Hardie’s RAB™ Board.

In both the commercial and residential sectors, building standards around the world are evolving to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly. With global concerns regarding climate change and the environmental impact of construction at an all-time high, the design and construction industry is trying to find ways to deliver sustainability and efficiency across all elements of building design.

James Hardie, with its innovative, resilient and high performing RAB™ Board fibre cement pre-cladding solution, responds to the needs of an evolving world by directly addressing the elements that ensure buildings perform sustainably over their lifetime and deliver elevated levels of occupant health, safety and comfort.

These elements are:

  • Fire safety; 
  • Condensation management; 
  • Energy efficiency; and
  • Superior weatherproofing

The building envelope plays a critical role in managing these elements, and builders are looking at new ways to meet the challenge of building compliance while addressing common issues relating to weather resistance, moisture ingress and airtightness. 

A New Approach to Building Facades

Finding a solution that meets the stringent demands of contemporary design has been difficult, especially for taller, complex facades, resulting in solutions that fall short in terms of performance and durability. A new approach to facade systems in Australia, rigid air barriers are a cutting-edge solution that improves performance over the life of a building by equalising the air pressure within the external wall cavity, resulting in superior weatherproofing and airtightness and fire protection.

Ideal for the exterior of mid to high-rise residential, institutional and commercial buildings, RAB™ Board is an all-in-one bracing, airtight fibre -cement rigid air barrier that ensures efficient, sustainable building performance both inside and out. Built to battle the elements, the inherent strength of RAB™ Board allows it to stand up to 7kPa wind pressures, making it ideal for use in taller, or complex, wall design. It is comprised of materials deemed non-combustible, achieving superior fire performance unlike traditional flexible and timber wall underlay. These characteristics mean RAB™ Board can be safely used in cyclonic regions and for all types of non-combustible construction for all classes of building.

Furthermore, RAB™ Board features CoreShield™ Sealer Technology that provides a rigid water resistant and vapour permeable membrane, eliminating the need for additional sarking or treatment. Its unique green panel utilises built-in air and water-resistant barriers to keep moisture out, while allowing moisture vapour to escape, allowing the framing cavity to dry. This protects building elements against moisture-related degradation, contributing to buildings that are more durable, safe and long-lasting. 

Sustainable Design: The Importance of Building Envelopes

Excelling as a high-performing weather barrier as well as temporary weather protector during construction, RAB™ Board enables a continuous watertight and airtight seal that delivers weatherproofing across the facade. Airtightness is critical to the performance of building envelopes in terms of energy efficiency and indoor air quality. Undesirable and uncontrolled air leakage to the outside through the building envelope will reduce the efficiency of thermal insulation and heat resistance, and result in a greater reliance on mechanical heating and cooling systems. Delivering superior airtightness, this solution provides enhanced occupant comfort, increases the envelope’s service life and contributes to meeting increasingly demanding energy efficiency requirements in Australia. 

The material composition of RAB™ Board further adds to its elevated performance and sustainability values. Made from James Hardie fibre-cement, this product will not crack, warp or swell. It is also resistant to termites, pests and rot. Notably, fibre cement is made of materials that can be sustainably harvested, namely cement, water and air, radiata pine and sand. Fibre cement is asbestos free and contains minimal amounts of volatile organic compounds, ensuring it not only reduces the impact of construction on the environment, it also contributes to healthier building environments. Due to their light weight, fibre cement solutions offer increased speed of installation and reduced labour, transport and energy requirements.

RAB™ Board is the product of James Hardie’s commitment to conducting business in an environmentally sound and sustainable manner. The company utilises management systems and procedures to monitor the environmental impact of their products and operations, while also continuously looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint. 

To learn more about RAB™ Board visit James Hardie's website.