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A Scalable Personalized Thermal-Comfort Platform for Building Energy Conservation

Technology Overview

Buildings consume an enormous portion of energy in the world. And in a building, the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system accounts for more than half of the total energy consumption. Property management practitioners tend to choose conservative setpoints for indoor temperatures, aiming to allow a maximum number of occupants to enjoy the comfort of air conditioning. A typical example is the condition in most offices in Hong Kong. As no existing system can quantitatively estimate the thermal comfort level of each occupant, i.e. individual’s feelings on the surrounding temperature, the indoor air-temperatures are routinely set at very low levels. This unnecessary measure leads to huge energy wastes. In this project, a scalable personalized thermal-comfort (SPET) platform has been developed. The core innovation of the SPET platform is a model that can quantitatively estimate the thermal comfort level of individual occupants in indoor settings. As such, the platform can be used to support proactive temperature setting mechanisms that optimize both thermal comfort and energy conservation. In our research, the prototype of the model has been recorded to have saved energy by 18% and improved thermal comfort by 33.8%.

Technology Features & Specifications

The holistic thermal comfort model can quantitatively estimate personalized thermal comfort in daily operations for any individual and group in offices and homes The independent hardware of thermal comfort platform has a proactive temperature setting mechanism The entire system can enhance the energy efficiency in buildings by providing adequate cooling temperatures

Potential Applications

Comfortmate for home users: to balance energy conservation and thermal comfort with temperature setting mechanisms Thermal comfort audit in offices: to audit temperature setting mechanisms for office tenants, especially for areas withlow temperature settings that waste massive energy without causing comfort to occupants Peak-period charge avoidance for buildings: to suggest temperature setting for the peak-period of energy consumption to help owners of buildings avoid paying extra charges

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