Project Title:

UFAD Building Case Studies and Project Database

The study and documentation of current industry practices, design trends, success stories, and lessons learned.

Status (updated 6/18/2009): Complete

Funding sources: CBE Industry Consortium, Research Grants


Project Objective

Develop a body of information to document completed buildings having underfloor air distribution (UFAD) systems. Build a comprehensive database of UFAD buildings, a series of descriptive project profiles, and in-depth field studies.

Significance to Industry

Underfloor air distribution has proven to be an effective method of delivering conditioned air to localized diffusers in the occupied zone of the building. As more UFAD buildings are completed and occupied, there is a great opportunity to learn from the experiences of these projects in terms of occupant satisfaction, building operations, and whole-building performance.

This project serves as a resource for all parties interested in developing a better understanding of successful designs as well as the barriers to implementation of UFAD systems. It will provide objective information about systems design, operation, and performance as well as how designers have addressed practical issues and overcome limitations in the availability of design tools and product offerings. This information will be useful for building owners, developers, designers, contractors, and manufacturers.

Research Approach

In this project we have developed three levels of progressively more detailed information about existing UFAD projects: (1) candidate study projects are reviewed and added to our database along with their basic parameters; (2) project profiles are developed via site visits and interviews with project designers, owners, and facility managers; and (3) in-depth field studies are conducted on selected projects. The project profiles document and characterize underfloor system design issues and solutions, describe the operation of the system, evaluate the overall performance, and list noteworthy attributes discovered during the studies. The field studies focus in more detail on design and operation, and evaluate performance from on-site measurements, analysis of occupant satisfaction surveys, and analysis of energy usage.

Progress on this research includes the identification of over 250 UFAD projects in the U.S. and Canada, and documentation of their key characteristics. We have also conducted an on-line questionnaire to investigate trends and performance of a number of these buildings. Six project profiles have been completed and posted to CBE’s underfloor technology website, two field studies have been completed, and several Summary Reports and Internal Reports have been produced and distributed to CBE industry partners.

Publications and Reports

Webster, T., F. Bauman, S. Schiavon, D.Dickerhoff, D. Heinzerling, D. Troup and D. Hill. 2011. Technical Report on California State Teachers Retirement System Building: UFAD Performance and Blinds Study. CBE Report, August.

Webster, T., F. Bauman, D. Dickerhoff and Y. Lee. 2008. Case Study of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 8 Headquarters Building. Report for U.S. General Services Administration, September.

Webster, T., R. Bannon and D. Lehrer, 2002. Teledesic Broadband Center Field Study. CBE Summary Report, April.

Click here for related publications>>

CBE UFAD Test Facility

Project profiles document emerging trends in UFAD building and system design.

CBE UFAD Test Floor

Detailed field studies provide in-depth technical summaries.

CFD Model of UFAD Plenum

CBE’s report on the Teledesic Broadband Center field study provides in-depth analysis of a UFAD retrofit. .