Integrating ducts into the conditioned space: Successes and challenges

Publication Type

Conference Proceedings

LBNL Report Number



In residential and light commercial construction in the United States, heating and cooling ducts are often located outside the thermal or pressure boundary of the conditioned space. This location is selected for aesthetic and space requirement reasons. Typical duct locations include attics, above dropped ceilings, crawlspaces, and attached garages. A wide body of literature has found that distribution systemconduction and air leakage can cause 30-40% energy losses before cooling and heating air reaches the conditioned space. Recent innovative attempts at locating ducts in the conditioned space have had mixed results in terms of improving duct efficiency. Some of these strategies include cathedralizing attics (sealing and insulating at the attic roofline) and locating ducts in interstitial spaces. This paper reviews modeling studies that suggest substantial savings could be realized from these strategies and presents field measurements which reveal that construction planning and execution errors can prevent these strategies from being widely applied or from being effective when they are applied. These types of problems will need to be overcome for effective integration of ducts into the conditioned space.

Conference Name

Architectural Engineering Institute Conference, Austin, TX

Year of Publication