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Network for Comfort and Energy Use in Buildings Research

Ph D 8

Title of thesis Balancing comfort expectations and greenhouse gas emissions - Thermal comfort in office buildings in a changing climate
Abstract According to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the construction sector has the greatest potential for climate change mitigation. This work investigates the potential for climate change mitigation in naturally ventilated and mixed mode office buildings, by evaluating the range of influence of building design and occupants on greenhouse gas emissions as well as thermal and visual comfort.
Thermal comfort is evaluated according to the EN 15251 adaptive thermal comfort model, visual comfort is based on daylight autonomy and view. Parametric studies have been conducted based on building simulation for the climate of Athens, Greece. Input data are based on a literature review, and on results from a field study conducted among office occupants and architects in Athens.
The results show that the influence of occupants on greenhouse gas emissions is larger than the influence of building design. Energy saving office equipment, as well as active use of building controls for shading and lighting by occupants are crucial parameters regarding the reduction of CO2 emissions. In mixed mode buildings, the coefficient of performance of the cooling system is an important parameter as well. Regarding thermal and visual comfort, the influence of building design is predominant. A green building, well protected against heat from the sun and able to balance solar and internal heat gains, provides higher comfort levels and is less affected by the influence of occupants. In mixed mode buildings, building design is the predominant influence on the magnitude of cooling loads. A hot summer including heat waves can significantly reduce thermal comfort and increase the resulting greenhouse gas emissions. Green buildings are least affected by these influences.
The EN 15251 adaptive thermal comfort model provides a thermal comfort evaluation method valid throughout Europe. However, for the Mediterranean climate of Athens, Greece, most of the configurations investigated within this study do not meet the requirements according to this model. EN 15251 refers to an adaptive thermal comfort model for naturally ventilated and to a static model for mechanically ventilated buildings. For mixed mode buildings, the static model is recommended, but literature indicates that occupants in those buildings might be more tolerant towards higher temperatures. The hypothetical application of the EN 15251 adaptive thermal comfort model in mixed mode offices, as investigated in this study, shows potential for greenhouse gas emission savings. However, this influence is small compared to that of building design and occupants. Conclusions are drawn regarding the categorisation and exceeding criteria according to EN 15251 adaptive thermal comfort model for offices in a Mediterranean climate.
The results of this work show, that not only green buildings, but also green occupants can significantly contribute to the mitigation of the climate change. Mechanisms of the real estate market as well as the lifestyle of occupants are important influences in this context. Sustainability therefore refers to finding the right balance between occupant's comfort expectations and resulting greenhouse gas emissions for a specific building, rather than optimisation of single parameters
Researcher / Institution Astrid Roetzel
Hafen City University Hamburg, Department Architecture
Status / Publication date Thesis completed 2009
Keywords adaptive thermal comfort;occupants;building design;visual comfort;greenhouse gas emissions
Related publications Roetzel, A., Dietrich, U., Tsangrassoulis, A., Busching, S. (2010): Balancing buildings and occupants - a holistic approach to thermal comfort and greenhouse gas emissions in mixed mode offices, Proceedings of Conference: Adapting to Change: New Thinking on Comfort Cumberland Lodge, Windsor, UK, 9-11 April 2010.
Roetzel, A., Tsangrassoulis, A., Dietrich, U., Busching, S. (2010): A review of occupant control on natural ventilation, Renewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews 14, pp.1001 - 1013
Roetzel, A., Dietrich, U., Tsangrassoulis, A., Busching, S. (2009): Influence of building use on comfort and energy performance in offices, Healthy Buildings Conference proceedings, 13.-17.9.2009, Syracuse, NY, USA
Roetzel, A. (2008): Evaluation of thermal and visual comfort in offices considering realistic input data and user behaviour in building simulation, Proceedings of Conference: Air Conditioning and the Low Carbon Cooling Challenge, Cumberland Lodge, Windsor, UK, 27-29 July 2008.
Contact details Astrid Roetzel
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