Browsing Department of Mechanical Engineering & the Built Environment by Subjects
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Building Related Symptoms, Energ, and Thermal Comfort in the Workplace: Personal and Open Plan OfficesThis study compared building-related symptoms in personal and open plan offices, where high and low levels of control over the thermal environment were provided, respectively. The individualized approach in Norway provided every user with a personal office, where they had control over an openable window, door, blinds, and thermostat. In contrast, the open plan case studies in the United Kingdom provided control over openable windows and blinds only for limited occupants seated around the perimeter of the building, with users seated away from the windows having no means of environmental control. Air conditioning was deployed in the Norwegian case study buildings, while displacement ventilation and natural ventilation were utilized in the British examples. Field studies of thermal comfort were applied with questionnaires, environmental measurements, and interviews. Users’ health was better in the Norwegian model (28%), while the British model was much more energy efficient (up to 10 times). The follow-up interviews confirmed the effect of lack of thermal control on users’ health. A balanced appraisal was made of energy performance and users’ health between the two buildings.
Energy and Comfort in Contemporary Open Plan and Traditional Personal OfficesTwo office layouts with high and low levels of thermal control were compared, respectively traditional cellular and contemporary open plan offices. The traditional Norwegian practice provided every user with control over a window, blinds, door, and the ability to adjust heating and cooling. Occupants were expected to control their thermal environment to find their own comfort, while air conditioning was operating in the background to ensure the indoor air quality. In contrast, in the British open plan office, limited thermal control was provided through openable windows and blinds only for occupants seated around the perimeter of the building. Centrally operated displacement ventilation was the main thermal control system. Users’ perception of thermal environment was recorded through survey questionnaires, empirical building performance through environmental measurements and thermal control through semi-structured interviews. The Norwegian office had 35% higher user satisfaction and 20% higher user comfort compared to the British open plan office. However, the energy consumption in the British practice was within the benchmark and much lower than the Norwegian office. Overall, a balance between thermal comfort and energy efficiency is required, as either extreme poses difficulties for the other.
Health, Energy and Thermal Comfort.This study examined the impact of providing thermal control systems on occupants’ wellbeing in two particular European contexts, including a Norwegian cellular plan office with high levels of thermal control and a British open plan office with limited thermal control. The former provided each occupant with a personal office, within which openable windows, blinds, door and the ability to control the temperature was provided. In the Norwegian approach, personal differences in perceiving the thermal environment were respected and the architectural design of the building allowed each individual to set the thermal environment. In contrast, limited openable windows were provided for occupants seated around the perimeter of the building in the open plan office. The main strategy in the British approach was to provide a uniform thermal environment for all occupants according to the standard comfort zone. Natural ventilation was the main system, while in the Norwegian practice a combination of natural ventilation and air conditioning was in operation. As a result, the energy use of the Norwegian practice was much higher than the British practice. A field study of thermal comfort was applied. Survey questionnaires, environmental measurements and interviews were conducted. The Norwegian occupants reported much higher health rate up to 40% compared to those in the British practice. The follow up interviews revealed the importance of lack of thermal control on occupants’ wellbeing. A balanced appraisal was made of energy performance and users’ health between the two buildings.