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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Performance of underfloor air distribution: Results of a field study


Underfloor air distribution (UFAD) is a new method of supplying heated or cooled air throughout a building. Reported advantages of UFAD include easy relocation of air supply diffusers, energy savings, and improved indoor air quality (IAQ). We measured several aspects of the performance of an UFAD system installed in a medium-size office building. The measured air change effectiveness was very close to unity, which is comparable to that measured in buildings with typical overhead air distribution. The pollutant removal efficiency for carbon dioxide was 13 percent higher than expected in a space with well-mixed air, suggesting a 13 percent reduction in exposures to occupant generated pollutants. The increase in indoor air temperatures with height above the floor was only 1 to 2oC (2-4oF). This amount of thermal stratification could reduce the sensible energy requirements for cooling of outdoor air by approximately 10 percent. The occupant s level of satisfaction with thermal conditions was well above average and this high satisfaction rating could possibly be due, in all or part, to the use of a UFAD system. The results of this study provide some evidence of moderate energy and IAQ-related benefits of UFAD. Before general conclusions are drawn, the benefits need to be confirmed in other studies.

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