Study Link Between Thermal Comfort, Energy Efficiency
ATLANTA – With HVAC&R consuming a third of energy used in
buildings, alternative systems or strategies to reduce
energy use are needed.
Different approaches could include use of a building’s
thermal mass in combination with night cooling or heating or
cooling by pipes embedded in floors, walls or ceilings. Such
systems are often associated with indoor temperatures that
drift during the day. While drifting temperatures may save
energy, their impact on occupant health and productivity are
unknown. Research to study the impact of drifting
temperatures on thermal comfort, health and productivity is
being funded by the American Society of Heating,
Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).
ASHRAE recently approved funding totaling $947,167 for seven
research projects in the areas of indoor air quality,
comfort and health, design tools, food processing and
preservation, and operating and maintenance.
Among them is Occupant Responses and Energy Use in Buildings
with Moderately Drifting Temperatures, 1269-RP. The research
will be conducted at the International Center for Indoor
Environment and Energy, Technical University of Denmark,
Lyngby, Denmark, by principal investigators Jørn Toftum,
Ph.D., and Bjarne Olesen, Ph.D.
“The concept of using drifting temperatures to save energy
is not new,” Toftum said. “Some information is available on
assessing the implications on thermal comfort of slowly
increasing or decreasing temperatures. Drifting temperatures
may not only affect occupant comfort but mental performance
and the prevalence of sick building syndrome symptoms. We
must make sure that comfort, health or productivity is not
compromised in order to save energy. This project will help
decide whether a given temperature change is acceptable and
quantify the effects of temperature changes on human health
The project is expected to take 18 months at a cost of
$101,520. It is sponsored by ASHRAE’s Technical Committee (TC)
2.1, Physiology and Human Environment.
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