Creation of a database to help better understand human thermal comfort in residential and commercial buildings is being funded through an ASHRAE grant program.
Veronika Foldvary, a visiting Ph.D. student at the Center for the Built Environment at the University of California, Berkeley, is one of 18 students who will receive a grant through the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers’ Graduate Student Grant-In-Aid Award program, which is designed to encourage students to continue their education in preparation for service in the HVAC industry.

The grants, totaling $180,000, are awarded to full-time graduate students of ASHRAE-related technologies. 

The project will identify occupant responses to temperatures in residential and commercial buildings worldwide. Foldvary will collect that data to construct an international database, which will include measurements of all the physical conditions affecting thermal comfort plus subjective surveys. 

“The database would be used to analyze trends in thermal comfort and behavior patterns and evaluate current comfort prediction tools, as well as their relevance to different building types, climates, cultures and demographics,” Foldvary said. “We would convene discussion groups to address issues of data analysis and representation to ensure its usefulness to the global research community. The analysis will provide the evidence base for developing improved international standards.”

Other grant recipients and projects include:

  • Paul Armatis of Oregon State University. He will study experimental validation of models for heat and mass performance evaluation of membrane-based energy recovery devices.
  • Daniel Fernandes Bacellar of University of Maryland. Bacellar will look at airside heat transfer augmentation using multiscale analysis and shape optimization for compact heat exchanges with small hydraulic diameters.
  • Jennifer Date from Concordia University. She will study model-based control of convectively conditioned thermal zones for energy and load management.
  • Amin Engarnevis of University of British Columbia. This study will cover the effects of humidity, temperature and particle fouling on permeation properties of polymer membranes.
  • Seyed Ghahfarrokhy of the University of Toronto. The study will cover development and validation of an approach to quantify the impact of human exposure to particle-bound contaminants indoors.
  • Sara Gilani from Carleton University. Occupant modeling for prediction of comfort and building energy performance in office spaces will be examined.
  • Kristen Jaczko from Queen’s University. Jaczko will research advanced integrated energy systems for high-performance buildings.
  • Leigh Lesnick of University of Texas. Characterization of air mixing with different HVAC market systems and assessment of potential for airborne infectious disease transmission in schools.
  • Hongwan Li from University of Texas. Evaluation of HVAC filters and pollutants in U.S. schools.
  • Ryan Milcarek from Syracuse University. Flame-assisted fuel cell for micro-combined heating and power systems. Milcarek also received the Grant-In-Aid Life Member Club designation, which is given to the highest rated applicants and supported by a financial contribution from the club.
  • Fuxin Niu of the University of Alabama. The study will examine operation of buildings as virtual batteries for the grid with high penetrations of renewables.
  • Sukjoon Oh from Texas A&M University. The student will study quantifying the energy savings benefits of smart meters and home automation for single family residences.
  • Parichehr Salimifrad from Pennsylvania State University. The transport of indoor biological dust.
  • Yi Wang of National University Singapore will look at effectiveness of ultraviolet germicidal irradiation systems in air handling units in enhancing indoor air quality and energy performance. Wang is also a recipient of the Grant-In-Aid Life Member Club designation.
  • Jiu Xu from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will examine oil-separation compressors.