Measuring thermal preference and acceptability in highly adaptive environments

    Healey, Kathryn
    Thermal comfort, lighting and acoustics


The importance of field study to the measurement and prediction of thermal comfort is well known. Field-based studies have served to highlight the real-world relationship between adaptive opportunity and thermal preference and acceptability reported by occupants. While real-world complexity is integral to field-based study, the reasons why it influences the comfort responses of participants is not well understood. This paper presents the results of an in-depth study carried out in an office where occupants have a high level of control over their thermal environment. The building operates in changeover mixed-mode configuration, with natural ventilation mode enforced when ambient conditions are deemed favourable, and occupants able to either naturally ventilate or operate a personal air conditioner outside of those times. Thermal conditions at work areas were measured alongside a participant questionnaire of thermal comfort, acceptability and preference. State data for building mode and adaptive devices were recorded. The results were contextualised using qualitative interviews, during which participants discussed their relationship to their workspace in terms of comfort and adaptive habits. The study raised questions on cognitive tolerance, reaction to discomfort, responsibility taken for personal comfort needs, as well as personal factors, such as clothing levels and thermal disposition, which may influence responses.

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