Thermal comfort and occupant behaviour in office buildings in south-east China

Wu, Jindong (2015) Thermal comfort and occupant behaviour in office buildings in south-east China. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Natural ventilation is a passive cooling method that has significant potential to reduce building energy consumption and to positively contribute to indoor environmental conditions. Because the window is an important element in naturally ventilated buildings, it can be used to adjust indoor air flow. However, lack of knowledge about occupants‘ window control behaviour and how this relates to different window typology would result in discrepancy between actual and proposed building performance. And also, limit the potential of natural ventilation in the building. This thesis explores the relationship between indoor air velocity, occupants‘ window control behaviour and window design.

This study is based on field measurement and occupant comfort survey in four office buildings in a hot and humid climate in South-east China. The field study was carried in September and October of 2012. The indoor and outdoor thermal conditions, indoor air flow speed, window state and effective opening area were monitored. Occupant thermal comfort questionnaires were given to participants four times a day to record their comfort perceptions in the office. The field study gives new insights into the correlation between indoor air speed, occupants‘ window control behaviour and window design.

For the research 14400 set of indoor and outdoor temperature and relative humidity data, 174560 indoor air velocity records and 1344 copies of questionnaires were collected. The results of this study defined comfort zone for this climate which is consistent with Givoni‘s comfort zone for a hot and humid climate. The indoor air flow path is identified by measuring the indoor air velocity across different parts of the office and related window opening combinations. Besides, the effective opening area is reduced with decreased indoor air temperature when the indoor air temperature is lower than 25°c. None of the windows is closed when the indoor air temperature is higher than 28°c. During the working hours, the changing of effective opening is related to the air velocity across the desk surface. And measured maximum indoor air velocity measured around the occupant is 1.8m/s which did not result in occupants‘ window changing behaviour to adjust for comfort.

In conclusion, this study proved that occupants who live in hot and humid climate can accept higher humidity level. If the air velocity can be avoided across the occupant‘s working surface, then a higher indoor air velocity is still accepted by occupant as within their comfort threshold. So, there are great potentials for occupant to extend their comfort threshold and adapt to the local climate. Besides, window opening type and position has a significant impact on indoor air velocity and pattern. It would also influence convective cooling affect and occupant thermal comfort. This is evident from the indoor air velocity measurement results and the occupant comfort survey results. In addition, accessibility is important to window design. In the naturally ventilated office building, if occupants find it difficult to operate the window, this will have an influence on the natural ventilation potential in the building and cause the occupant discomfort. Thus, the findings of this study will help architects and engineers to design naturally ventilated office buildings in South-east China.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Ford, B.
Rodrigues, L.
Keywords: Natural ventilation, Thermal comfort, Occupant behaviour
Subjects: T Technology > TH Building construction > TH7005 Heating and ventilation. Air conditioning
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Engineering
UK Campuses > Faculty of Engineering > Built Environment
Item ID: 29435
Depositing User: Wu, Jindong
Date Deposited: 08 Sep 2015 11:59
Last Modified: 13 Sep 2016 12:59

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