Categories: Sustainable Commercial Buildings, Indoor Environment, Processes and Tools Sectors: Owners, Occupiers, Designers, Facility Managers
A new University of Sydney lab will be used for research into how indoor environment quality impacts occupants’ comfort and productivity, with a focus on sustainability solutions.
The University of Sydney Faculty of Architecture, Design & Planning is launching the Indoor Environment Quality (IEQ) lab on August 31, 2012.
The IEQ lab will be used to examine how factors such as temperature, humidity, air quality and movement, ventilation, daylight, artificial lighting, sound and acoustics attribute to occupants’ comfort, productivity and health outcomes.
These parameters can all be controlled in the lab’s two purpose built rooms. The rooms’ fit out will initially resemble A Grade commercial office space, to maximise ‘experiential realism’. The rooms are designed for flexibility and can be re-modeled to replicate industrial, residential, retail, leisure and vehicle interiors.
Professor Richard De Dear will head the IEQ lab. De Dear’s adaptive comfort model has been adopted by several international standards organisations and is referenced in America’s LEED and the Green Building Council of Australia’s Green Star rating protocols.
De Dear says most green building focus has been on reducing a buildings impact on the environment.
“[Green buildings are] designed or retrofitted to reduce the overall impact of the built environment on its occupants and the natural environment… It’s true that the fist tenet of green buildings, resource efficiency, has received most attention to date,” De Dear says.
“Most of a building’s operational energy consumption, and by extension, greenhouse gas emissions, are directly related to the provision of IEQ by energy-intensive building services like cooling, heating, ventilation and lighting.”
He says the lab will influence green indoor environment technologies suitable for use based on occupants’ comfort, productivity and related factors.
“For example, indoor lighting; we can improve the efficiency of lighting technologies by further developing light-emitting diode (LED) lamps. But the uptake in buildings of such technology ultimately hinges upon their IEQ performance, as judged by building occupants. Lighting that renders our complexion with a cadaverous pallor in the bathroom mirror is extremely unlikely to meet with market acceptance, regardless of its energy efficiency! Quantifying market acceptability of lighting qualities in typical workaday scenarios is exactly where our IEQ Lab can help,” De Dear says.
“Likewise with heating and cooling technologies; we're seeing increasingly energy efficient alternatives to conventional VAV air conditioning, like chilled beams, radiant ceiling panels, etc. But their acceptance and penetration in the market-place depends very much on the quality of thermal comfort they can deliver to building occupants, and this is exactly where our IEQ lab's research capabilities can help.”
Based on its research, the IEQ lab will aim to create benchmarks for the indoor environment.
“The research projects already underway in our IEQ lab aim to establish a set of principles, guidelines and protocols that can be used to assess the performance of a building from the point of view of its occupants. This will enable designers to make evidence-based decisions at the design stage, avoid later retrofits and save considerable energy and greenhouse gas emissions,” De Dear says.
Academic staff from the University of Sydney’s Architectural and Design Science discipline with expertise in thermal perception, acoustics, environmental psychology, lighting and sustainable design will work alongside De Dear.
In addition to its role as a research tool, the lab will be used in higher degree research training at the University of Sydney.
“Already our IEQ team has attracted masters, doctoral and post-doctoral candidates from as far afield as Japan, Brazil, Chile, Malaysia, China, India, Korea,” De Dear says.