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Siliang Lu PhD Proposal - CFA 202 Kerr Conference Room

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An integrative HVAC system featuring adaptive personalized cooling with non-intrusive sensing techniques
PhD Proposal by Siliang Lu, PhD-BPD Candidate

Advisory committee:
Erica Cochran Hameen, Assistant Professor, Chair
Omer Tugrul Karaguzel, Assistant Professor
Katerina Fragkiadaki, Assistant Professor


Heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system plays a key role in shaping the building performances. The effective and efficient HVAC operations not only achieve energy savings but also create a more comfortable environment for occupant indoors. Moreover, compared to private office environment, open-plan office environment has become a trend in most of office buildings since it not only creates opportunities for employers to communicate with one another and improve productivity but also reduce construction cost. However, open-plan office building is also faced with problems like much too interruption and unsatisfactory shared indoor temperature and humidity. Since HVAC system aims to create comfortable thermal environment and improve energy performances of the building, it is of great importance to develop new paradigm of HVAC system framework so that everyone could work under their preferred thermal environment while the system could also achieve better energy performances. Inspired by that, many researchers have made great effort to developing thermal comfort model and promote the development of occupant-responsive HVAC system.

Moreover, compared to environment-related factors to thermal comfort, occupant-related factors such as clothing insulation, metabolic rate, skin temperature haven’t had standardized sensing technique to measure in order to predict or detect individual thermal comfort in real-time. In terms of user-focused sensing system, four metrics have to be taken into account, which are privacy, intrusiveness, accuracy and cost-effectiveness. However, most of sensing system for occupant-related factors may either result in privacy issue or are too intrusive. Therefore, it is necessary to develop a new non-intrusiveness and less private sensing framework for monitoring thermal comfort in real-time.

Therefore, this dissertation proposes a new integrative HVAC system featuring adaptive personalized cooling with non-intrusive sensing techniques for open-plan office buildings. The research mainly consists of three parts:

§     Develop an adaptive personalized cooling system to create a comfortable local thermal environment automatically with non-intrusive sensing techniques. The sensing system consists of indoor air temperature and relative humidity sensor, air velocity sensor as well as 8x8 thermal array (Infrared array).

§     Quantify the energy savings of the new paradigm of multiple personalized systems in the micro-zones to be connected with the macro-zone where the temperature setpoint dead band of the centralized HVAC system increases and the system is responsive to occupant behaviors.

§     Develop a simulation model to analyze the benefits of occupant thermal comfort improvement and energy savings in a typical open plan office space with the proposed system.

As a result, the new paradigm of the integrative HVAC system could optimize energy performances and create more comfortable thermal environment for employers working in the open plan office and is expected to be implemented in the future.

Keywords: adaptive thermal comfort, personalized cooling system, non-intrusive sensing, occupant-responsive HVAC system.

View the PhD abstract and PhD proposal at these links.