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Thermal comfort

Thermal comfort is the condition of mind that expresses satisfaction with the thermal environment and is assessed by subjective evaluation (ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 55). Maintaining this standard of thermal comfort for occupants of buildings or other enclosures is one of the important goals of HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) design engineers.

Thermal neutrality is maintained when the heat generated by human metabolism is allowed to dissipate, thus maintaining thermal equilibrium with the surroundings. The main factors that influence thermal comfort are those that determine heat gain and loss, namely metabolic rate, clothing insulation, air temperature, mean radiant temperature, air speed and relative humidity. Psychological parameters such as individual expectations also affect thermal comfort.

The Predicted Mean Vote (PMV) model stands among the most recognized thermal comfort models. It was developed using principles of heat balance and experimental data collected in a controlled climate chamber under steady state conditions. The adaptive model, on the other hand, was developed based on hundreds of field studies with the idea that occupants dynamically interact with their environment. Occupants control their thermal environment by means of clothing, operable windows, fans, personal heaters, and sun shades.

The PMV model can be applied to air conditioned buildings, while the adaptive model can be generally applied only to buildings where no mechanical systems have been installed. There is no consensus about which comfort model should be applied for buildings that are partially air conditioned spatially or temporally.

Thermal comfort calculations according to ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 55 can be freely performed with the CBE Thermal Comfort Tool for ASHRAE 55.

Similar to ASHRAE Standard 55 there are other comfort standards like EN 15251 and the ISO 7730 standard.

  • Thermal Comfort,Fanger, P. O, Danish Technical Press, 1970 (Republished by McGraw-Hill, New York, 1973).
  • Thermal Comfort chapter, Fundamentals volume of the ASHRAE Handbook, ASHRAE, Inc., Atlanta, GA, 2005.
  • Weiss, Hal (1998). Secrets of Warmth: For Comfort or Survival. Seattle, WA: Mountaineers Books. ISBN . OCLC 40999076. 
  • Godish, T. Indoor Environmental Quality. Boca Raton: CRC Press, 2001.
  • Bessoudo, M. Building Facades and Thermal Comfort: The impacts of climate, solar shading, and glazing on the indoor thermal environment. VDM Verlag, 2008


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