Network for Comfort and Energy Use in Buildings

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This is a new section for Frequently Asked Questions
If you would like to submit a question (or an answer) on the topic of comfort and energy use in buildings, please contact the Administrator

Question 1: Are there any official guidelines describing adaptive temperature limits?
Answer 1:
The ASHRAE Standard 55-2004 has an adaptive limit for Naturally Ventilated Buildings. The New Guide A from CIBSE also has a section on adaptive comfort and a new CEN (European) Standard (15251) with an adaptive standard for building temperatures is in the process of approval. (FN)

Question 2: Do adaptive comfort limits only apply in offices (with openable windows, no clothing policy etc) or also in other building types?
Answer 2:
Adaptive comfort limits are based on Field Surveys of thermal comfort and strictly apply to the circumstances (climatic, social etc) of the survey. Most surveys have been done in offices but may include offices with clothing policies and no openable windows. This is why meta-analyses such as the ASHRAE database are used to give an overall view. Databases that include offices of many different types allow the researcher to look at the difference attributable to the ventilation method, clothing policy etc. (FN)

Question 3: With all the recent talk about outdoor climate change and every year higher summer temperatures: how appropriate is it to use adaptive comfort limits instead of the old 'straight line limits'?
Answer 3:
There is an open question: as climate changes will local culture and lifestyles change in line with it? I think this is likely (for instance British cafe society is increasingly outdoor as our summer temperatures rise) but we cannot be sure. I think it would be wise to continue to measure comfort temperatures in the coming period of climate change and to judge whether adaptation is 'keeping up' with climate. In my view the 'straight line limits' (presumably assuming a single comfort temperature in all seasons and climates) would be the very worst solution - from the point of view of comfort as well as energy use (FN)

Question 4: I would like to put some adaptive temperature demands in a Programme of Constraints for a building I am working on. What exactly should I write down? What standards should I refer too?
Answer 4:
The limits shown in the new CEN standard EN15251 are most appropriate for Europe. This Standard also defines how you can measure compliance

Question 5: What are typical indoor temperatures in the UK?
Answer 5:
The English House Condition Survey (published by DEFRA) used to collect temperature data for a sub-sample of the national survey every 5 years, but has not done so since 1996 …
For studies of temperatures in specific household types, see papers by Oreszczyn et al (2006) and Rudge & Winder (2002) at Research Index / Papers

Question 6: What relevance do research ethics requirements have for thermal comfort surveys?
Answer 6:
Research into comfort necessarily involves human participants; therefore it comes under the definition of research that requires ethics approval
See also presentation by Dr Adrian Pitts (Third NCEUB Meeting, Sept 2005) at Members/ Presentations

Question 7: Is there a standard thermal comfort questionnaire?
Answer 7: to be posted

Question 8: What are recommended maximum / minimum indoor temperatures for health?
Answer 8: to be posted

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