Assessing indoor environmental quality and occupant comfort in modern wood buildings with post-occupancy evaluation and building performance simulation
Abstract: The European building sector is a source of significant negative environmental impacts, and large part of its carbon emissions can be attributed to heating, cooling and lighting of buildings – in other words, regulating buildings’ indoor environments. As people spend most of their lives indoors, there is a great challenge to create comfortable indoor environments, while also striving for further energy-efficiency and lower environmental impact. There is a growing interest in natural and renewable building materials such as wood that can address these challenges, while simultaneously substituting other, more harmful materials. This study investigates the attributes affecting indoor environmental quality in multi-story wood buildings and evaluates the performance of a case study building in Aarhus, Denmark. The parameters included in the study are thermal comfort, indoor air quality, acoustic performance and daylight availability. These indoor environmental conditions are assessed on the basis of a post-occupancy evaluation survey, simulated building performance data and recorded measurements. Based on the findings, suitable methods for predicting and evaluating indoor environmental performance in the design phase for future wood buildings are identified, and the usability of the occupant survey is reviewed. The post-occupancy evaluation generated valuable insight into the subjective perceptions of the occupants, and pinpointed problem areas on different levels. The building performance simulations accurately predicted the thermal discomfort experienced by the occupants, and should be incorporated into early design stages of future projects to help mitigate issues. The demand for better occupant control over indoor conditions, as well as opportunities for design optimization within acoustic and daylight performance were identified. Analyzing the diurnal latent heat and moisture flux of the wood surfaces is proposed as future work on the subject.
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