By Gary Thomas
The Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency and Minister for Industry and Innovation in Australia, Greg Combet will be opening the country’s first comfort laboratory on 31, August 2012.
Researcher investigating the acoustic properties of the laboratory
The comfort laboratory is a research facility that has been designed to improve workplaces and residences. The lab is located on the premises of the University of Sydney at the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning. Researchers will be studying the possible methods of reducing the heating and cooling requirements of buildings. This requirement consumes the most amount of energy, overall.
Professor Richard de Dear, a globally renowned researcher on thermal comfort in buildings and an authority in Indoor Environmental Quality, will be the director of the laboratory. He stated that presently humans spend around 90% of their time indoors. The lab will help improve the comfort and quality during the time they spend indoors by studying the reaction of humans to sound, light and temperature.
While 21.5° has been considered as the ‘optimal temperature’ for human productivity, Dear stated that there was no scientific basis for this consideration. Determining the efficient ways of providing comfort will help lower energy costs and also improve productivity and sustainability.
The comfort laboratory consists of two rooms. These are fitted with sensors and controls to monitor and control temperature, acoustics, lighting intensity, direction and level, ventilation, and air direction and flow. The comfort of the occupants during various conditions will be monitored.