Building Enclosure Test Laboratory (BETL)

The Building Enclosure Test Laboratory is a facility developed to conduct building science serviceability performance tests on building enclosure systems.  Specimens include but are not limited to complete wall or roof assemblies (or sub-assemblies), windows, and joints.  In this laboratory, tests are performed to examine the performance of existing residential building enclosures and to experiment with new systems.  Besides the guarded hot box facility, other facilities in the BeTL include the following:

  • Large climate chamber for simulating enclosure elements (e.g., portions of a wall or roof, windows or sections of materials)  under indoor and outdoor environmental conditions.   Temperature, relative humidity and solar radiation climate-condition profiles can be simulated with the facility
  • Enclosure test facility and spray rack for testing the performance of materials under air pressure differentials, rain and temperature variations

Example Testing Capabilities:

  • Development of design strategies for rainscreen and sheathing membrane performance in wood frame walls
  • Investigation of the mechanics of ventilation in screen-type wall systems and the potential for ventilation drying for common, above-grade, residential wall systems
  • Assessment of the influence of moisture retarders and the overall hygrothermal behavior of interior insulated CMU walls
  • Development of strategies to improve the thermal performance of steel-framed wall systems
  • The use of housewrap in walls including installation, performance  and implications

External view of climate chamber

Interior side of masonry wall tests



The Pennsylvania Housing Research Center serves the home building industry and the residents of Pennsylvania by improving the quality and affordability of housing.

We conduct applied research, foster the development and commercialization of innovative technologies, and transfer appropriate technologies to the housing community.

Pennsylvania Housing Research Center

219 Sackett Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802

Phone: 814-865-2341

Fax: 814-863-7304