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Predicting Thermal Comfort.

Some like it hot; some like it cold. And the Center for the Built Environment has real-world data that shows its personal comfort systems (PCS) research may helpF people better predict occupant thermal comfort.

At the 2017 ASHRAE Annual Conference in Long Beach, Calif., Joyce Kim, Student Member ASHRAE, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, Berkeley, and a graduate student researcher at the Center, presented findings from a field study that tested how to use PCS and occupants' behavior to predict a person's thermal preference.

The study's 40 participants reported 96% thermal acceptability and 99% satisfaction with the PCS chairs-battery-powered, mesh-type office chairs with fans and heating strips embedded in the chair's seat and back panels-at the end of the field study. The real-world data set helps researchers and designers better understand people's thermal control behavior and comfort preferences, Kim said.

PCS chairs allow people to personalize their thermal comfort, with both cooling and heating systems.

"Our field studies have confirmed the potential energy savings of PCS by expanding temperature setpoints while maintaining or improving occupant comfort," she said.

The Center began working on a $1.6 million research project supported by the California Energy Commission's Public Interest Energy Research Buildings Program in September 2013. The research's goal was to create a new occupant-based paradigm for HVAC control and integrate low-energy PCS into HVAC operations that includes integrating the chairs' data for intelligent comfort management in buildings, according to Kim. The project ended this past March.

The study yielded more than 5 million data entries recorded at one-minute intervals from 4,500 survey responses that highlighted several key findings, Kim said.

She said the field study showed:

* PCS chair users were more satisfied with their thermal temperature than in a typical office building. The data showed 96% thermal acceptability across all exposed operative temperatures of 20.5[degrees]C - 24.5[degrees]C (69[degrees]F - 76[degrees]F).

* People who used the PCS chairs used the heating and cooling functions about 77% of the time they sat in the chair.

* Study participants liked the chairs, and daily surveys found a 99% satisfaction rating.

By Mary Kate McGowan, Associate Editor, News

COPYRIGHT 2017 American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc. (ASHRAE)
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Title Annotation:INDUSTRY NEWS
Author:McGowan, Mary Kate
Publication:ASHRAE Journal
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2017
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