The role of air motion for providing thermal comfort in residential / mixed mode buildings: a multi-partner global innovation initiative (GII) project

As the climate changes, global use of air-conditioning will proliferate as solutions are sought for maintaining thermal comfort in buildings. This rises alongside increased purchasing power as economies grow, harbouring the potential to unleash an unprecedented growth in energy demand. Encouraging higher levels of air movement at warmer temperatures to maintain thermal comfort may offset the risk of increased air-conditioning use. Whilst laboratory studies have quantified air motion effects on the human body, it remains unclear as to how best to incorporate higher air motion in the design and operation of residential / mixed mode buildings to offset air-conditioning use. The project reported is developing a better understanding of thermal comfort in residential /mixed mode buildings and is identifying the potential for higher air movement for providing energy-efficient comfort. Co-ordinated field surveys in British and Indian residences of thermal conditions, sensations and air motion practices have been conducted. The data generated will contribute to a worldwide database, and will inform validation of a coupled thermal comfort / airflow model for designing comfortable, energy-efficient indoor environments that exploit higher air motion. This paper describes the overall project, and presents preliminary findings from the British residential field survey.