Characterization of Envelope Air Leakage Behavior for Centrally Air-Conditioned Single-Family Detached Houses

Mohamed A. Makawi*, Ismail M. Budaiwi, Adel A. Abdou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Air leakage is an essential factor contributing to overall building performance. It plays a major role in determining energy consumption in harsh climates, particularly in residential buildings, as it represents a significant component of the envelope-induced thermal load. In centrally air-conditioned houses, the HVAC system can substantially alter the pressure distribution across the exterior envelope, reforming the air leakage behavior. Nonetheless, limited information is available to characterize and better understand such behavior to accurately predict building performance and energy consumption toward meeting the emerging requirements for sustainable buildings. This study experimentally investigated the air leakage behavior of a selected sample of centrally air-conditioned typical single-family detached houses in Saudi Arabia. The air leakage behavior was investigated by measuring the overall airtightness and the contribution of the different air leakage paths using the viable method of the blower door test (BDT). The air leakage rate was then calculated using the measured induced pressure across the envelope during the HVAC system operation. Results indicated that the air leakage behavior is significantly altered by the pressurization induced by the central HVAC system, eliminating air infiltration and producing an outward airflow across the entire envelope. The study addresses a current challenge in characterizing envelope air leakage behavior for a common type of house and, thus, would indirectly contribute to more accurate thermal and energy performance assessments. Several aspects were highlighted for consideration when defining the contribution of air leakage to energy consumption prediction and studying air leakage behavior in other types of buildings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number660
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to acknowledge the support of King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) for using its laboratory and research facilities.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.


  • blower door test
  • building air infiltration
  • building air leakage
  • building airtightness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Architecture
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction


Dive into the research topics of 'Characterization of Envelope Air Leakage Behavior for Centrally Air-Conditioned Single-Family Detached Houses'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this