How to Perform a Thermal Comfort Analysis
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Optimizing occupant comfort isn’t just a matter of preventing complaints. Building occupants feel healthier and perform better in environments that offer sufficient thermal comfort. Temperature, humidity, and ventilation have been found to profoundly impact productivity and cognition, and improving thermal comfort is one of the most affordable employee-related investments companies can make. That’s why controlling thermal comfort within office buildings and other structures in which people work is a top priority for savvy businesses.
In indoor environments, thermal comfort is affected by:
In smart buildings, Internet of Things (IoT) devices continuously measure these variables while intelligent building management platforms evaluate conditions and make adjustments to keep conditions within particular parameters.
Indoor air temperature results from the temperature immediately surrounding a person’s body, while ambient temperature stems from a heat source within the environment, such as the sun shining through a window, machinery in operation, or heating elements. Both these temperature measurements help determine thermal comfort.
IoT temperature sensors fall into these four general categories:
HVAC controls can be automated to respond to sensor data to ensure comfort.
Relative humidity is a ratio of the maximum amount of water vapor air can contain at current temperatures and the actual amount of water in the air. When relative humidity falls between 40-70%, thermal comfort isn’t significantly affected. However, when HVAC units aren’t operating optimally, humidity levels can rise to uncomfortable levels. Temperature and humidity are invariably linked, as higher relative humidity levels make temperatures seem warmer while lower levels of humidity make them seem cooler.
Commonly used humidity sensors include:
These sensors are particularly important in hot, humid environments. High humidity levels affect how the body deals with heat, as when humidity reaches levels of 80 percent or more, less sweat evaporates from the body. It is this evaporation of sweat that reduces body temperature, so when humidity levels are too high, heat-related conditions such as heat stroke or heat exhaustion are more likely to occur.
The movement of air makes air temperatures seem cooler, The faster air moves, the faster a body loses heat. In simple terms, this is why fans help keep people cool even without temperature changes. Additionally, indoor environments with still or stagnant air that’s been heated artificially may cause stuffiness that increases discomfort. Smart building management platforms use IoT data to manage air circulation and filtration, while other sensors that analyze traffic and occupancy ensure enough fresh air reaches an area to deal with the number of occupants present.
An intelligent building management platform, like onPoint, utilizes machine learning algorithms to optimize thermal comfort. With onPoint, HVAC and other building equipment doesn’t just respond to an arbitrary schedule or even to real-time information; it can respond based on both actual and anticipated conditions to keep occupants as comfortable as possible at all times. It can even be used to customize conditions by room, floor, or zone so each area suits the exact needs of occupants. onPoint also allows you to implement predictive maintenance to prevent malfunctions and downtime from affecting comfort.
A master systems integrator will help you make the most of smart technologies for thermal comfort, temperature, and humidity control. Not only will they ensure sensors are placed correctly, they will also ensure building systems work together optimally. With their guidance, your building will become a better, safer, and more productive place to work.
Buildings IOT offers the state-of-the-art services and products you need for outstanding thermal comfort, temperature, and humidity control. Contact our team of experts to learn more about what we can do for you.
Jason draws on his experience in IT, lighting controls and integrated building management systems to write about commercial real estate industry trends and Buildings IOT customer success.