Sustainable Performance of Healthy and Efficient Residential Environments

Ongoing Projects

Characterization of Multi-Pollutant, Multi-Zone Interactions

SPHERE affiliates are conducting a seed project to evaluate the prevalence of multiple health stressors in multiple zones of a residential building. The evaluation is being conducted during multiple seasons to consider transient effects. Contaminants are produced inside and outside the home, and are transported by two household systems: air via natural and mechanical forces, and water and plumbing. Contaminants are also transferred from the water system to the air system, and possibly vice versa. Contaminants observed simultaneously include particulate matter, reactive oxygen species, and biological components.

Funded by CACHE.


Data Analysis: Northern Illinois Electricity Usage

CACHE affiliates Ashlynn Stillwell and Paul Francisco are turning to smart-meter electricity data to reveal broad behavior trends that drive residential electricity use. More than 500GB of data were obtained through a partnership with Environmental Defense Fund in early 2018, under a new program that allows ComEd to release anonymous electricity usage, in 30-minute intervals, for most in ComEd’s northern Illinois territory, including all of Chicago.

Seed-funded by CACHE, Illinois Civil Engineering graduate student Lucas Djehdian spent three months arranging the information into an easy-to-use format and drawing some preliminary trend charts. His efforts lay the groundwork for deeper dives into consumer energy behavior.

Read more about this project >>>



SPHERE (Sustainable Performance of Healthy and Efficient Residential Environments) is dedicated to achieving greater quality in the indoor home environment, where humans spend most of their time. Our aspiration is to develop a generalizable understanding of the sources of health stressors within common environments and their relative importance, and to recommend actions that minimize risk.


SPHERE’s chosen setting is residential buildings, beginning with single-family homes and expanding to multi-family homes. To integrate the understanding of built environment, environmental conditions, mechanical systems, and human behavior, we use the tools of targeted but simplified sensing and simulations of intermediate and appropriate complexity. Humans and houses have a wide range of characteristics, differing with weather and activity. A generalizable understanding of performance requires access to hundreds of homes and the ability to make abundant observations with high time resolution.