An occupant-participatory approach for thermal comfort enhancement and energy conservation in buildings

Abraham Hang Yat Lam, Yi Yuan, Dan Wang

Research output: Chapter in book / Conference proceedingConference article published in proceeding or bookAcademic researchpeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


Commercial building is one of the major energy consumers worldwide. Among the building services, the heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) system dominates the total energy consumption. Recent studies have proposed various approaches to audit, automate and optimize energy usage of the HVAC system. Nevertheless, these schemes seldom discuss human thermal comfort. To minimize complaints, the current practice of the facility management is to adopt very conservative temperatures, leading to massive waste of energy. In this paper, we actively take thermal comfort into consideration. We propose a participatory approach allowing the occupants provide feedback regarding their comfort levels. A major challenge for a participatory design is to reduce intrusiveness of the system. To this end, we develop a temperature comfort correlation model that can build a profile for each occupant. The decision of setpoint temperature can be primarily model-driven, requiring minimal inputs of the occupants. We validated our model with field experiments. Besides, we developed a setpoint optimization algorithm to handle the diverging thermal requirements of multiple occupants in same room, and examined the model with simulations. We implemented our design and conducted field experiments in a University and a commercial office. Results showed that our algorithm can successfully maintain high thermal comfort, while reducing 18% of energy consumption.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicatione-Energy 2014 - Proceedings of the 5th ACM International Conference on Future Energy Systems
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)9781450328197
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014
Event5th ACM International Conference on Future Energy Systems, e-Energy 2014 - Cambridge, United Kingdom
Duration: 11 Jun 201413 Jun 2014


Conference5th ACM International Conference on Future Energy Systems, e-Energy 2014
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • energy conservation
  • participatory thermal comfort
  • smart building

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Fuel Technology

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