In Pittsburgh, PA, a building envelope consulting firm worked with two project teams to conduct whole building envelope air leakage testing on two dissimilar projects. Both the testing efforts and the expertise of the project teams provided many valuable lessons regarding air leakage testing and its impacts on the construction process and on building performance. One of the projects was the new construction of a relatively small (24-unit) apartment building; this was the first apartment building in the United States to receive Passive House PHIUS+ certification. The other project is a large, historic church building, where whole building envelope air leakage testing, along with an integrated smart building infrastructure system consisting of an enhanced whole building energy model, digital utility meters, air quality sensors, a weather station, and a dashboard interface, will deliver dramatic improvements in energy use, thermal comfort, and indoor air quality. With perspectives from an envelope consultant, a contractor, and an energy systems integrator, this paper will describe the air leakage testing and reporting of results for each building. For the apartment building, the paper will focus on above-code program compliance, preferred testing methods for multifamily residential buildings, coordination of air leakage testing with construction scheduling and sequencing, and the value of test results and envelope commissioning during construction. For the existing church building, the paper will focus on feasibility of testing large buildings, interpretation of test results, relationship to energy modeling procedures and results, energy savings, and return on investment.
building envelope air leakage, Passive House, smart building infrastructure, building energy retrofit, building energy modeling, building enclosure commissioning
Hosken, Robert J.
Building Performance Architecture, Pittsburgh, PA
Wattick, John A.
Mosites Construction Co., Pittsburgh, PA
Stevenson, Craig E.
AUROS Group, Carnegie, PA