Testing of Building Elements

Testing of building façade elements, including building-integrated PV systems (BIPV)

Façades account for almost 50% of the thermal load in buildings in the tropics and are related to many occupant comfort issues, such as visual comfort and thermal comfort. SERIS operates a well-equipped laboratory for testing of thermal and optical properties of building façade materials and assemblies, conducted according to the ASTM C1199, C1363, C1371, NFRC 300-2010, NFRC 301-2010 and DIN-5036-3 standards.

The laboratory provides the following services:

  • Measurement of the solar and luminous properties of architectural glasses [visible light transmittance, solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC or g-value), shading coefficient (SC), U-value
  • Measurement of the emittance and solar reflectance of roof surface materials (e.g., paints, coatings, membranes) and calculation of the solar reflectance index (SRI)
  • Measurement of the thermal insulation properties (U-value, R-value, thermal resistance, thermal conductivity) and the shading coefficient of building envelope materials and assemblies (e.g., windows, walls, insulating glazing units)
  • Measurement of the visible light reflectance of façade materials (e.g. cladding panels)

In the area of façade technologies, our services for industry partners and opportunities for collaborative research include:

  • Determination of solar and luminous properties of glazing systems
  • Determination of the SHGC (or G-value), SC and U-value of fenestration and façade systems, including BIPV systems
  • Other services such as cool roof material testing and insulation material testing

Calorimetric hot box (left of left photo) with solar simulator (right of left photo) for the measurement of the solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC). For U-value measurements, the solar simulator is switched off and a climate chamber (middle part of right photo) is put in front of the sample.

On-site testing of the air-tightness of buildings

In energy audits, the so-called “blower door” tests are used to determine a building’s air-tightness. Reasons for establishing a proper building air-tightness include:

  • Avoiding unwanted heat gains through gaps in the building’s envelope
  • Reducing additional energy consumption for cooling
  • Preventing moisture condensation problems

In this test, a blower door with one or two powerful fans temporarily replaces an actual door of the building under test. The fan pulls air out of, or blows air into, the building, thereby lowering or increasing the air pressure inside. Airflow through existing gaps in the building will be induced due to the pressure differences. In combination with the use of a smoke pencil, air leaks can easily be detected. These tests measure the air infiltration rate of a building. They can also be used to measure airflows between building zones, to test ductwork air-tightness, and to localise air leakage sites in a building envelope. The blower door test is conducted according to the ASTM E-779, ATTMA and BS EN 13829:2001 standards.

Blower door measurement of a building’s air-tightness

For further information, please contact:

Dr Veronika SHABUNKO
Centre of Excellence for Building-integrated PV
Solar Energy System Cluster (SES)