Proceedings of 9th Windsor Conference Making Comfort Relevant

Brotas, Luisa, Roaf, Susan, Nicol, Fergus and Humphreys, Michael, eds. (2016) Proceedings of 9th Windsor Conference Making Comfort Relevant. NCEUB - Network for Comfort and Energy Use in Buildings, UK. ISBN 978-0-9928957-3-0


Preface to the Proceedings of the 9th Windsor 2016 at Cumberland Lodge, Windsor

For many the costs of providing acceptable indoor temperatures have become prohibitive. Around the world people already have to make stark choices on whether to spend money on heating and cooling or on eating. The science of comfort developed in the 20th century around the needs of the HVAC industry for whom comfort was a product, produced by machines to be sold to customers. Engineers and other building professionals needed target conditions to feed into their calculations to create comfortable or neutral environments for groups of people in diverse buildings. But simple comfort models based on physics and physiology and using heat balance assumptions was found to be inadequate to explain the dynamic environments found to exist in many buildings when investigated using field surveys. However, despite being valued for its ability to deal with variable conditions, the field study approach continued to concentrate on finding a ‘comfort temperature’ for a particular group or environment.
At the same time sophisticated simulations did not stop the construction of buildings that still too often overheat. The serious challenge of achieving reductions in energy consumption and carbon emissions must to be faced without too often compromising the comfort, health, well-being and productivity of building occupants. Where are the cost effective solutions? Better climatic design; de-mechanisation of buildings; more efficient equipment or the reshaping building regulations? Or is it changes in occupant behaviour? We live in a world of rapid cultural, economic, environmental and architectural changes. At the same time there is a growing imperative to reduce energy use and its related GHG emissions and to cope with extreme weather and power outages in buildings. If we also want to make indoor environments more delightful there is a pressing need for more research into the dynamic nature of comfort. Increasingly the insights of ergonomics, psychology and thermal physiology can inform research in this field.
The role of comfort researchers is to help design a new generation of resilient buildings that will mitigate climate change and withstand its impacts. How do we measure the costs and benefits of different approaches to the provision of comfort in 21st century buildings and their resulting economic impacts? The provision of reliable, safe and affordable thermal comfort in buildings is a core priority for designers as the costs of energy rise and the global impacts of its use become ever clearer on our landscapes and in our changing climate. How can the researchers help with this endeavour?
Traditionally the subject of thermal comfort was dominated by the physics and physiology of comfort and its language. The terminology used by comfort researchers has been that of engineering and physics – temperature, humidity and air speed, clothing insulation and watts of metabolic heat in W.m-2. An increasing acceptance of the behavioural, or adaptive approach to comfort has opened the way for a more holistic and dynamic understanding of thermal comfort. The provision of comfort can no longer be seen in isolation – as an activity detached from cost or impact. There is a realisation that behavioural adaptation can lead to a widening as well as a narrowing of the temperatures people find comfortable, and can apply in all buildings not just those which are naturally ventilated.
It is 22 years since the Windsor Conference first came to Cumberland Lodge and in that time our own ideas and approaches to the field have changed radically and our discussions have also started to change the assumptions of the world around us. This year there were workshops exploring comfort models and clothing, thermal physiology and teaching, statistics and ventilation and our understanding of comfort as a personal choice or a negotiated reality. All this was on offer in addition to keeping in touch with the latest developments in related products and controls design and standards, guidance and legislation around the world.
The driving theme of the 9th Windsor conference was the need to make the results we obtain from comfort research more accessible and widely applied. How can we help architects and engineers design better, more comfortable buildings? Thermal comfort studies help us write specifications for International Standards, or size an AC system, but do they help us decide what type of building is best in a humid tropical climate or how much diurnal variability is desirable in a north European home? Where should we build using massive stonework or where from wood and cane? When to use shading and when to welcome in the sun? How different are homes from offices? We need tools to explore and answer such questions and then convert this understanding into advice, not in the terminology of physicists and engineers but that of architects and builders? Can we present our ideas to design students in a way which will excite them?
Such questions are the basis of the 93 papers contained in this volume. The papers were written by many of the 130 experts from 22 countries who attended the 7 plenary sessions and 9 workshops of the conference. Two keynote speeches were delivered by three leading experts. There was a quiz night this year as well as the usual table tennis and billiards. A meeting was called of the scientific committee and lifetime achievement awards were made to Michael Humphreys and Fergus Nicol in recognition of their contributions.
We would like to acknowledge the effort of Scientific Committee members for reviews of abstracts and papers presented here.
Hopefully this compilation of papers will become an essential source for academics, researchers, building designers and managers as well anyone interested in new knowledge, approaches and technologies.

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