The Residential Building Systems (RBS) group collects residential data from diagnostics tests to characterize the energy use and indoor air quality of the U.S. housing stock. Our goal is to compile a national database that contains measurements of air leakage, ventilation, and indoor air contaminants.

RBS has updated the residential diagnostics database several times since its start in mid 1990s. Houses in the U.S. are ventilated primarily through leaks in the building envelope. Air tightness of the building envelope is an important factor that affects energy use, as leaky homes require more energy for heating and cooling to maintain thermal comfort.

On the other hand, new homes rated for energy efficiency (e.g., ENERGY STAR certified new home) often follow the strategy of “Building Tight, Ventilation Right”. Air tightness data can be used to characterize the construction quality of the building envelope. This data is also useful to assess if the combination of mechanical ventilation and infiltration is adequate to maintain acceptable indoor air quality.

Currently, the Residential Diagnostics Database (ResDB) contains building envelope air leakage data from about 147,000 homes, and duct leakage data from 18,700 homes. In 2011, we gathered a large amount of data from across the country to improve geographical coverage of the database. Weatherization assistance programs, residential energy efficiency programs, and energy ratings of new homes are the main sources of data.

We have extended the database beyond just air leakage data, but to also include ventilation and indoor air contaminants data. The consolidation of these different types of data into a database will support analysis to study their interdependent relationships. For example, the data gathered here will be utilized by RESAVE, a CEC-funded research program, which aims to reduce peak load and energy costs related to ventilation and infiltration. The analysis will also be utilized by Home Energy Saver to recommend energy saving measures to U.S. homes.

Residential Building Systems Group, Environmental Energy Technologies Division , Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory ,