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How To Get Into Harvard…Duct Sealing

Hopeful high school graduates aren’t the only ones trying to get into Harvard. Getting on the university’s list of approved vendors can be a boon to any commercial contractor, but few make the cut. For Aspen Air Duct Cleaning, it started with a call from a mechanical contractor working on the university’s renovation of its Girguis Lab. Engineers had just installed a new 8,500 CFM air handling unit that was meant to supply heat to the lab and an adjacent facility. When the unit was brought online, however, its fan was operating at around 97% of capacity with little effect – and that was even before the system was connected to the adjacent facility. It was determined that leaks in the ductwork were reducing static pressure to such a degree that air couldn’t reach its destinations. With ducts hidden under insulation and behind layers of pipes, fixing those leaks seemed an impossible task.

In Brief

  • Building: Girguis Labs – Harvard University
  • Location: Cambridge, MA
  • Aeroseal Contractors: Aspen Air Duct Cleaning
  • Goal: Improve AHR efficiency
  • Before Aeroseal: 5,800 CFM of leakage (total)
  • After Aeroseal: 429 CFM of leakage
  • Results: Reduced leakage by approximately 98%; lowered fan speed by more than 60%

Contractors used Aeroseal to seal the ductwork of Girguis Labs at Harvard University.

Fortunately, the mechanical contractors on the job had heard about a new approach to duct sealing called aeroseal, that worked from the inside of the air shafts to locate and seal leaks. With a call to the aeroseal experts at Aspen, a meeting was arranged, questions were answered and the date was set to have the system’s ductwork aerosealed.

In just a matter of days, the problem was fixed. Aspen quickly reduced the system’s duct leaks from more than 5,800 CFM down to 429 CFM – a 98% reduction. The AHR fan now operated at only 37% of capacity. The system was quieter, and university engineers were relieved.

In fact, the results were so dramatic that Aspen was invited to a private Harvard vendor share event, they were asked to aeroseal another campus building, and the company is now on the ivy league university’s official vendor list – and that’s how you get into Harvard.


I would absolutely call this a project saver. Our only other option was to tear down walls and demolish the building structure in order to access the leaky ductwork. We were very pleased with the results and I honestly don’t know how we would have solved this issue if the Aeroseal technology wasn’t available.”

John Hollister
Senior Capital Project Manager
Harvard University

Any prior concerns we had over the disruption that the aeroseal process might cause in a 24/7 environment were quickly proven to be unfounded. It was probably the quickest evidence of success I’ve ever seen. We’ve already spec’d Aeroseal into several additional projects.”

Steven Sundius
Senior Project Manager
Rist-Frost-Shumway Engineering, P.C.

About Aeroseal Technology

Before/After Aeroseal
  • Developed at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in 1994.
  • Research for aeroseal technology was partially funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.
  • Aeroseal is the only duct sealant technology that is applied from the inside of the duct system. It is delivered as a non-toxic aerosol mist that seeks out and plugs leaks.
  • Aeroseal has proven to be 95% effective at sealing air duct leaks.

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