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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Field Evaluation of Thermal and Acoustical Comfort in Eight North-American Buildings Using Embedded Radiant Systems


We performed a post-occupancy assessment based on 500 occupant surveys in eight buildings using embedded radiant heating and cooling systems. This study follows-up on a quantitative assessment of 60 office buildings that found radiant and all-air buildings have comparable temperature and acoustic satisfaction with a tendency for increased temperature satisfaction in radiant buildings. Our objective was to investigate reasons of comfort and discomfort in the radiant buildings, and to relate these to building characteristics and operations strategies. The primary sources of thermal discomfort are lack of control over the thermal environment (both temperature and air movement) and slow system response, both of which were seen to be alleviated with fast-response adaptive opportunities such as operable windows and personal fans. There was no optimal radiant design or operation that maximized thermal comfort, and building operators were pleased with reduced repair and maintenance associated with radiant systems compared to all-air systems. Occupants reported low satisfaction with acoustics. This was primarily due to sound privacy issues in open-plan offices which may be exacerbated by highly reflective surfaces common in radiant spaces.

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