Open source building science sensors

We make a lot of long-term environmental and building science measurements inside buildings for many of our studies. However, many off-the-shelf sensors are either prohibitively expensive for large scale studies or lack particular features that we’re interested in (or both). So we’ve been developing our own sensors and data loggers using open source software and hardware, and we recently launched the Open Source Building Science Sensors (OSBSS) project, funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The goal of the project is to demonstrate how to build inexpensive building environmental and operational sensors for long-term studies of the indoor environment using open source hardware and software, with a particular focus on the building environmental factors that may influence indoor microbial communities. Read more about the motivation and objectives of OSBSS.

We’re working to build open source version of the following sensors and data loggers:

  • Air temperature, relative humidity, and light
  • Infrared (IR) dual beam break sensors for measuring human occupancy
  • Proximity IR sensors for human activity/proximity near surfaces
  • Surface temperatures
  • Water activity of surfaces
  • CO2 and an automated injection and decay system for air exchange measurements
  • Differential pressure
  • On/off state loggers
  • Generic data loggers for other sensors

Stay tuned to as we continue to design, build, and calibrate our sensors and post tutorials for doing the same online!


OSBSS is led by Akram Ali, a master’s student in architectural engineering, with immensely helpful contributions from Deion Debose (BS candidate, Architectural Engineering), Boyang “Bobo” Dong (BS candidate, Electrical and Computer Engineering), Zack Zanzinger (BS candidate, Architectural Engineering), and Torkan Fazli (PhD candidate, Civil Engineering).