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Thermal comfort and perceived indoor air quality optimization, with respect to occupant behaviour in naturally ventilated school buildings

Grant number: 21/11903-8
Support type:Scholarships abroad - Research
Effective date (Start): August 01, 2022
Effective date (End): February 28, 2023
Field of knowledge:Applied Social Sciences - Architecture and Town Planning - Architecture and Urbanism Technology
Principal researcher:Leticia de Oliveira Neves
Grantee:Leticia de Oliveira Neves
Host: Marcel Schweiker
Home Institution: Faculdade de Engenharia Civil, Arquitetura e Urbanismo (FEC). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil
Research place: Uniklinik RWTH Aachen, Germany  

Abstract

Schools' classrooms often present poor indoor air quality (IAQ) conditions, especially if naturally ventilated, where the building's thermal and IAQ performance is directly associated to the occupant behaviour regarding window and door operation. Therefore, research efforts have been directed at understanding which parameters are the main triggers for occupants' actions towards window operation, pointing out thermal comfort parameters as the main action triggers, while IAQ (CO2 concentrations) remains as a secondary restriction. Since March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic not just renewed but also emphasized the interest and urgency on investigating deficient IAQ and thermal comfort conditions in classrooms. Yet, most of the published research studies have been carried out considering isolated objectives. Giving this scenario, this project aims at filling this research gap, regarding the need to develop a comprehensive study of the relationship between thermal comfort and perceived IAQ and their association with occupant behaviour, considering a simultaneous multi-input and output parameters interaction. Therefore, this research study aims to analyse potential conflicts between thermal comfort and IAQ, with regard to triggers for manual operation of windows and doors in naturally ventilated classrooms, and to identify optimal situations of balance between both drivers. The methodological approach includes statistical analysis, building performance simulation and multi-objective optimization. Performance requirements based on a set of rules/ guidelines for window/door operation and occupancy patterns will be provided, helping to support building use practices focused on occupant-centric building operation. Knowledge from occupant behaviour extracted from a previous field study (classrooms monitoring campaigns and surveys with occupants) will allow recognizing if occupants' response to thermal stimuli can override group norms, such as the window operation rules resultant from the current pandemic. Results will also contribute to the debate related to the uncertainty in how occupancy models are to be addressed in building design so it can better reflect reality.

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