Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
CTBUH Supports IIT on Successful Research Grant
Project Started: October 2012
Funding Sponsor:
Principal Investigators:
The National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance, (NCIIA) has awarded a grant to the Illinois Institute of Technology to study an efficient method to detect air leakage spots in tall buildings using a compact acoustic phased array.

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat’s research team supported the application, which focuses on one of the key energy conservation issues facing tall buildings. It is estimated that 30 to 50 percent of space conditioning energy consumption in many well-insulated buildings is due to air leakage through the building enclosure.

“The unique and innovative aspect of this project is the development of a new measurement technique to detect air-infiltration in old and new tall buildings in conjunction with traditional techniques” said Dr. Payam Bahrami, CTBUH Senior Research Associate.

The project’s key objectives:

Application of technology: Validation of this technique on  tall buildings or rooms within buildings with a significant leakage problem. Several candidate buildings have been identified with help from the CTBUH. 

Business development: Explore the market for remotely detecting drafty windows or other leaks by collaborating with building contractors and building owners and comparing the cost, convenience and efficacy of this innovation against current methods.

Creative and scientific: Verifying leak detection and quantification of leak size with experiments on small pressurized enclosures with known air leakage spots. Refining beam-forming algorithms for building leak applications.

“Our project focuses on detecting building air leakage and air infiltration using an acoustic phased array. Successful use of this technique is likely to result in significant energy savings” said Principal Investigator and Project Lead, Dr. Ganesh Raman, IIT Associate Dean for Research.

National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance provides faculty and students with funding for projects and course programs, opportunities for recognition, and entrepreneurship education training and networking opportunities.

The project was awarded a $23,000 grant in two stages from NCIIA, which supports technology innovation and entrepreneurship and assists in bringing together students and faculty concepts into commercialization.



Figure 1. Beamform map of success at locating leakages from doors using the advanced wideband beamformer, TIDY of, (a) the top half of the door and (b) the bottom half of the door.  The circled regions show sound level contours superimposed on the photograph of the door.

The team assembled for this research project includes Dr. Raman; the CTBUH’s Dr. Bahrami; Dr. Robert Dougherty, President, Optinav Inc; Dr. Ralph Muehleisen, Principal Building Scientist; Argonne National Laboratory; and three graduate students who will also assist on the project.

The recently completed Roosevelt University Tower will be used as one of the case studies for this research project, with the support of Roosevelt University and the campus Planning and Operations.

See more articles from the CTBUH research division

Figure 2. Innovative Technology + Implementation Opportunity = Energy Savings