Is 24.9 °C Too Hot to Think? A Call to Raise Temperature Setpoints in Australian Offices
The current +−0.5 PMV (Predicted Mean Vote) targets adopted by NABERS (National Australian Built Environment Rating System) is the practical range deemed acceptable for 90% acceptability for commercial buildings in Australia, however thermal comfort satisfaction scores measured in office buildings still show high percentages of dissatisfied occupants. This paper aims to demonstrate the potential of curbing energy consumption from commercial buildings in Australia by increasing summer temperature set-points. A 10-year NABERS dataset, along with objective and subjective thermal comfort and air quality data from NABERS-certified offices are investigated in this study. Furthermore, different simulation scenarios are tested to investigate the discomfort hours and energy consumption for various summer temperature setpoints. Result analysis shows that occupants’ satisfaction in NABERS-certified buildings was not within the 90% satisfaction, with being too cold/hot as the main source of dissatisfaction. Objective measurements also showed temperature was out of recommended range for several datapoints. Simulation results indicate that, within the average range of 21–24.9 °C, there is not a significant difference in discomfort hours that could drive the selection of one temperature set-point over the other. Challenging the current practices, results suggest that a cooling set point temperature on the upper limit of the range indicated by the Australian standard AS 1837–1976 may minimize the energy consumption without significantly increasing discomfort, or even increasing the perceived satisfaction with the indoor environment.
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