Building Envelope Air Leakage Failure in Small Commercial Buildings Related to the Use of Suspended Tile Ceilings

Secondary Author(s)

Cummings, James

Report Number





Buildings; Air Flow


Recent research over the last few years is providing a better understanding about the building envelope of small commercial buildings. These buildings have very similar construction to single-family residential buildings, but unlike residential buildings, they usually have a suspended tile ceiling between the conditioned space and ceiling or attic space. Testing indicates that the building envelope in small commercial buildings is substantially less airtight than residential buildings and the cause is associated with the suspended ceiling. Ceiling airtightness test results from two buildings are presented in this paper and show that they are very leaky. The pathways in the ceiling plane are one necessary constituent for airflow to occur across the ceiling. The second constituent needed is a pressure difference across the ceiling. Data and observations from three buildings are used to illustrate the impact that four primary driving forces and a leaky ceiling have on small commercial buildings. The severity of impact from ceiling air leakage failure depends on the amount, direction, and quality of airflow.

Date Published



Buildings - Air Flow

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