Capturing Energy Savings from Large Building Envelope Leakage Reduction

Dave Bohac, Jim Fitzgerald, Martha Hewett
air leakage test, building joints

Envelope air sealing could significantly reduce large building energy consumption, but no systematic research has identified the most cost-effective strategies for Minnesota buildings. The National Institute of Standards and Technology estimates that air leaks account for one-third of commercial and industrial buildings’ energy use. Minnesota energy codes for new buildings incorporate air barrier requirements, but don’t address existing buildings.  This project will develop diagnostic tools and methods to quantify potential energy savings from air sealing, to help energy practitioners identify cost-effective envelope recommissioning opportunities in large buildings. 

The Center for Energy and Environment (CEE) received funding from the Minnesota Commerce Department to research effective building envelope air sealing strategies for large buildings though field work and modeling. “Capturing Energy Savings from Large Building Envelope Leakage Reduction” will refine diagnostic procedures to identify significant envelope air leaks and develop methods to reliably calculate air sealing energy savings. The project will also expand knowledge of how to recommission envelopes of Minnesota buildings. A recommissioning provider toolkit and a final report will help apply findings through state and utility programs.

CEE is a leader in building recommissioning and envelope inspections in Minnesota. Since receiving a DOE grant in 1996, activities have included demonstration projects, building pressure and envelope inspection services, infrared surveys, and assistance to state and utility recommissioning programs. CEE currently administers Minnesota’s Public Building Enhanced Energy Efficiency Program (PBEEEP).   

For project results, download a webinar by Director of Research Dave Bohac: The Value of Air Leakage Testing in Large Commercial Buildings – Study Findings.

This project supported in part by a grant from the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources through the Conservation Applied Research and Development (CARD) program. And with co-funding by CEE in support of its nonprofit mission to advance research, knowledge dissemination, and program design in the field of energy efficiency.

Article posted with permission from RSES Journal.