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Research Partnerships & Innovation

Large Building Airtightness Testing

June 14, 2015

There is a growing recognition of the need to establish performance targets for the airtightness of buildings either through regulations or voluntary programs. Before this occurs, further research is required to establish baseline air leakage rates and appropriate building airtightness targets (and, for specific building types/uses such as schools).

Our Research

Between 2012 and 2014, with the support of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and Manitoba Hydro, a total of 26 commercial buildings in Manitoba were tested.

Overall, they represented a fairly diverse sample of Manitoba’s commercial construction:

  • 18 (69%) were situated in the City of Winnipeg
  • They ranged in age from one to over 100 years
  • Floor areas varied from 150 m2to 19,788 m2 (1,615 ft2 to 212,918 ft2)
  • Building heights ranged from one to 16 stories

Five of the structures were owned by Manitoba Hydro who also provided financial and in-kind support for the project. The rest were occupied by a variety of private and public owners. An effort was also made to include a few buildings that were undergoing, or had recently completed, a major building envelope retrofit.


  • While RRC’s work in this area has greatly expanded the knowledge in this area, the number of large buildings tested is still quite small especially when compared to low-rise residential dwellings.
  • The following three projects illustrate RRC’s ongoing efforts in this area through BETAC: See the final project report