IEQ research to be aided by Australia’s first comfort laboratory

by FM Media
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Australia’s first comfort laboratory is being opened today at the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning. The lab will assist in researching indoor environmental quality (IEQ).

University of Sydney researchers will be looking for ways to slash one of the world’s biggest single sources of energy consumption – the heating and cooling of buildings – at a state-of-the-art new laboratory.
Australia’s first comfort laboratory, a research facility that will help improve workplaces in Australia and internationally, is being opened today, 31 August 2012, by Greg Combet, Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency and Minister for Industry and Innovation. The new laboratory is located at the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning.
“We now spend an average of 90 percent of our time indoors. By helping us understand how humans react to temperature, light and sound in an office, this laboratory will let us improve the quality and comfort of that time,” Professor Richard de Dear, director of the laboratory, comments.
“While there is a widespread belief that the ‘optimal temperature’ for human productivity is 21.5 degrees, a figure that has been enshrined in many tenancy contracts, there is no scientific basis to this belief,” he adds.
“By understanding the most efficient way to provide comfort, we can also lower energy and other resource costs. This has significant impacts on the sustainability of Australian businesses, drives productivity and increases our competitiveness in the low carbon future.”
The laboratory consists of two rooms fitted with a multitude of sensors and controls, allowing researchers to control indoor conditions such as temperature, ventilation, air flow and direction, acoustics and lighting level, direction and intensity. As these conditions change researchers will monitor occupants’ impressions of comfort.
The comfort laboratory is the cornerstone of the University of Sydney’s research into indoor environmental quality, a field of architecture and design science that combines psychology, physiology, sustainability and architecture to investigate how sustainability and human experiences influence productivity at work and comfort at home.

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