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Multizone Airflow Models for Calculating Infiltration Rates in Commercial Reference Buildings



Lisa C. Ng, Amy Musser, Andrew K. Persily, Steven J. Emmerich


Sixteen commercial reference buildings were created in the multizone airflow and contaminant transport program CONTAM in order to support physically based airflow calculations, as well as indoor air quality analyses, that are not possible using the existing EnergyPlus input files of these buildings. The EnergyPlus models were created for assessing new technologies and supporting the development of energy codes in pursuing building energy efficiency improvements. These models employed an oversimplified approach to infiltration in which infiltration rates were input as constant values. A number of additional inputs had to be defined for the CONTAM models to realistically account for airflow, including the addition of several building zones. Annual airflow simulations were performed in CONTAM for six of the reference buildings. There are clear relationships between the infiltration rates calculated by CONTAM and weather, which are not exhibited in the EnergyPlus results. In addition, the envelope airtightness values assumed in either approach have a major impact on calculated infiltration rates. The results of this study provide a baseline for subsequent use of these models to investigate design approaches and technologies that are intended to reduce building energy consumption, improve indoor air quality, or both.
Energy and Buildings


airflow, energy, CONTAM, EnergyPlus, reference buildings, ventilation


Ng, L. , Musser, A. , Persily, A. and Emmerich, S. (2013), Multizone Airflow Models for Calculating Infiltration Rates in Commercial Reference Buildings, Energy and Buildings, [online], (Accessed April 15, 2024)
Created February 6, 2013, Updated February 19, 2017