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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Transient human thermophysiological and comfort responses indoors after simulated summer commutes

  • Author(s): Zhai, Yongchao;
  • Zhao, Shengkai;
  • Yang, Liu;
  • Wei, Na;
  • Xu, Qinyun;
  • Zhang, Hui;
  • Arens, Edward
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY-NC-SA' version 4.0 license

The current study investigates the transient human physiological and comfort responses during sedentary activity following a period of elevated activity in a hot condition. Such metabolic and thermal down-steps are common in buildings as occupants arrive after commuting in summer. It creates a serious problem for thermostatic control, since arriving occupants find their transition uncomfortably warm at temperatures that resident occupants find comfortable. Fifty-nine participants (29 men, 30 women) dressed in 0.6 clo were tested while sedentary for 60 min in 26 °C, after having been exposed to 30 °C for 15min, during which they performed activities metabolically simulating commuting: sitting (SE- 1.2 met), or doing three levels of stair-step exercises: low (LEx- 2.2 met), medium (MEx - 3.0 met), and high (HEx - 4.4 met). Subjective comfort and physiological responses (metabolic rate, skin temperature, skin blood flow rate, heart rate, core temperature, and skin wettedness) were collected. Results show that sedentary conditions at 26°C became comfortable and acceptable within 2 min, but thermal sensation required much longer to change from ‘warm’ or ‘hot’ to ‘neutral’: 0, 8, 17, 30 min after SE, LEx, MEx, HEx respectively. Skin wettedness and core temperature did not recover within the60 min. The delays are mainly due to body heat stored during the exercise. A room temperature of 26°C may not provide sufficient cooling after summer commuting. Localized convective cooling of transitional spaces and work areas by ceiling or desk fans represent a way to enhance comfort recovery.

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