Indoor Environment Quality Assessment

Total Amount Awarded: $75,410

Final report poster or presentation: View the PDF

In 2009, UW President Mark A. Emmert stated his intent to establish a climate-neutral campus [Climate Action Plan (2009)]. As part of a plan to accomplish this goal, over 216 smart meters have been placed on buildings at the Seattle campus to monitor energy consumption through the related Pacific Northwest Smart Grid demonstration project. Although reductions in power consumption in University buildings are an established performance target, and measurements of usage are available to administrators and researchers, the related indoor environmental quality for these buildings is not presently evaluated. 

Our primary objective is to investigate the indoor environmental quality of the LEED-certified Gold Husky Union Building on the Seattle campus through measurements of temperature, air speed, acoustics, lighting, and water consumption, and through an analysis of surveys of building occupants regarding indoor comfort. We seek to answer the questions:

1. Does the LEED-certified Gold Building perform according to established protocols by such agencies as the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) and the United States Green Building Council (USGBC)?  
2. If not, what deficiencies exist? What strategies can be implemented to alleviate any problems?
3. How can we correlate measured indoor quality values to occupant satisfaction levels?
4. How can we monitor the performance of all buildings on campus in a non-invasive manner? 

Specifically, we propose to measure environmental quality metrics through instruments inside the HUB as previously undertaken by Kim (2012) in a different setting. Engineering Technician Yiming Liu of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering will work with a graduate research assistant to order, calibrate, and test the necessary equipment for these measurements. The equipment will be mounted onto a moveable cart so that the research assistant will be able to take the cart to specific locations in the HUB to collect data on a regular schedule. The investigators (Profs. Reed and Kim) will provide guidance to the research assistant in the data collection and analysis. Our team, which has permission from HUB Associate Director Paul Zuchowski, will also undertake standard surveys for individuals who have offices in the building. The results will be compared with established protocols. 

The primary outcome will be a process for the evaluation of the indoor environment quality of any University building. We anticipate that this investigation will lead to the writing of a research proposal to national funding agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), the US Department of Energy (USDOE) or the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA).

Relevance to UW Sustainability Goals:

Our primary objective is to investigate the indoor environmental quality of the LEED-certified Gold Husky Union Building on the Seattle campus through measurements of temperature, air speed, acoustics, lighting, and water consumption, and through an analysis of surveys of building occupants regarding indoor comfort. We seek to answer the questions:

1. Does the LEED-certified Gold Building perform according to established protocols by such agencies as the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) and the United States Green Building Council (USGBC)?
2. If not, what deficiencies exist? What strategies can be implemented to alleviate any problems?
3. How can we correlate measured comfort values to occupant satisfaction levels?
4. How can we monitor the performance of all buildings on campus in a non-invasive manner? 

We seek to understand the relationship between the occupant comfort and the related energy usage, as well as to quantify the uncertainties associated with the metrics for each. We note that the metrics used in this project are nondeterministic, and statistics of the derived time series data will be undertaken as part of the project. 

In the UW Climate Action Plan (2009), broad strategies are provided to achieve a climate-neutral university having no net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Table 3 (uploaded as a supplemental document) identifies how our proposed activities are related to the University’s sustainability goals.

Our project is also supportive of the University strategies outlined in Climate Action Plan (2009) for a climate-neutral campus in the following ways:

1. The team members and participants of this project will be directly “engaged in addressing sustainability issues” through the surveys and the data collected on the indoor environment. [Climate Action Plan (2009), p. 11].
2. Because the administrators of the buildings on campus have a vested interest in creating and maintaining the indoor environmental quality, the results of this project will assist in the University Research Strategy to “link the academic and administrative communities in joint projects…”. [Climate Action Plan (2009), p. 12].
3. According to the Climate Action Plan (2009) (p. 30), “[m]easuring and monitoring building performance is a technological strategy that enables behavioral strategies.” Our research project is one step towards accomplishing the proposed strategy to monitor and display building performance metrics in real time.
4. Tracking progress of the Climate Action Plan includes the use of “operational metrics that will broadly cover areas of energy conservation and savings…”.  [Climate Action Plan (2009), p. 65]. We will identify and develop metrics to monitor and assess indoor environmental quality as part of broader building performance metrics.

Timeline:

Our team consists of Profs. Amy Kim and Dorothy Reed, staff member Mr. Yiming Liu and graduate research assistant Mr. Shuoqi Wang.  Reed and Kim will serve as co-investigators on this project.  Table 4 (uploaded as a supplemental document) provides the breakdown of the following tasks we will complete during calendar year 2014.

Primary Faculty:
Dorothy 
Reed
Primary Staff:
Yiming 
Liu
Primary Student:
Shuoqi 
Wang

This project was funded during the 2013-2014 academic year.