Measure Guideline: Buried and/or Encapsulated Ducts

Research output: NRELSubcontract Report


Buried and/or encapsulated ducts (BEDs) are a class of advanced, energy-efficiency strategies intended to address the significant ductwork thermal losses associated with ducts installed in unconditioned attics. BEDs are ducts installed in unconditioned attics that are covered in loose-fill insulation and/or encapsulated in closed cell polyurethane spray foam insulation. This Measure Guidelinecovers the technical aspects of BEDs as well as the advantages, disadvantages, and risks of BEDs compared to other alternative strategies. This guideline also provides detailed guidance on installation of BEDs strategies in new and existing homes through step-by-step installation procedures. This Building America Measure Guideline synthesizes previously published research on BEDs and providespractical information to builders, contractors, homeowners, policy analysts, building professions, and building scientists. Some of the procedures presented here, however, require specialized equipment or expertise. In addition, some alterations to duct systems may require a specialized license. Persons implementing duct system improvements should not go beyond their expertise or qualifications.This guideline provides valuable information for a building industry that has struggled to address ductwork thermal losses in new and existing homes. As building codes strengthen requirements for duct air sealing and insulation, flexibility is needed to address energy efficiency goals. While ductwork in conditioned spaces has been promoted as the panacea for addressing ductwork thermal losses,BEDs installations approach - and sometimes exceed - the performance of ductwork in conditioned spaces.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages68
StatePublished - 2013

Bibliographical note

Work performed by Consortium for Advanced Residential Buildings (CARB), Norwalk, Connecticut

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/SR-5500-57824

Other Report Number

  • DOE/GO-102013-3893


  • attics
  • Building America
  • buried
  • condensates
  • Consortium for Advanced Residential Buildings (CARB)
  • duct leakage
  • ductwork
  • encapsulated
  • residential
  • residential buildings
  • thermal losses


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