Abstract: Current existing environmental control systems are operated based on environmental comfort models generated by mathematical formulas averaging the environmental comfort responses over data collected during extensive experiments involving panels of human subjects. These models may not be appropriate for an individual whose physiological characteristics happen to be located outside of the mainstream from the experimental sample of occupants. By necessity, existing building control systems disregard individual characteristics such as health, age, gender, body mass, etc., which may affect physiological responses. Thereby these systems have serious limitations in ensuring individual environmental quality satisfaction.
While there have been many efforts to overcome the limitations of current technology and to improve individualized control, most of the attempts to make smart controllers for buildings have dealt primarily with optimizing mechanical building components to deliver uniform conditions, largely ignoring whether a generated indoor environment by building systems meet actual users’ comfort and satisfaction. Over-shooting like over-cooling/-heating and too bright/dark conditions are common unnecessary results.
Environmental control innovations for building systems are critically needed to demonstrate that meeting the physiological needs of occupants can actually save energy and improve environmental quality while enhancing user satisfactions.
The human body has a biological mechanism, homeostasis, which enables it to maintain a stable and constant body condition by changing physiological signals including skin temperatures, heart rate, EEG, eye pupil sizes, etc. These signal patterns have the potential to provide information about each individual’s current environmental comfort/sensation.
Dr. Choi’s recent research has established an adaptive thermal comfort control driven by ongoing human physiological responses or bio-signals, and an eye-pupil size-driven environmental lighting control. Confirming the optimum driver of human physiological signals, the bio-sensing adaptive control logics are developed to support the optimum control of HVAC terminal units and lighting control systems. The bio-sensing controllers offer major opportunities for office, healthcare and residential buildings, especially where environmental quality and control can be linked to productivity and health, and where energy savings are critical. Therefore, the bio-sensing environmental control research would substantially improve occupant comfort, health, and well-being while advancing environmental sustainability with energy savings, at a small first cost for existing or new buildings.
Dr. Choi, Joon-Ho is Associate Professor of Building Science and Associate Dean of Research and Creative Work in the School of Architecture at the University of Southern California (USC). Prior to taking the position at USC, he earned his PhD degree in Building Performance and Diagnostics at Carnegie Mellon University, and worked as Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology.
Dr. Choi's primary research interests are in the areas of bio-sensing controls, human-building integration, intelligent building systems, including systems integration, advanced control systems, and environmental sustainability; and Comprehensive POE (post-occupancy evaluation), healthy indoor environmental quality, and human health/work productivity.
He has participated in numerous research projects financially supported the U.S. Government (Agency), non-profit research grant organizations, and industry partners, such as U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), Green Building Alliance, American Institute of Architects, United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), View, and AECOM. He is an active member/TC chair/vice-president of ASHRAE, ARCC, ISIAQ, IAQVEC and KSEA since 2003, and a referee/editorial board member for the International Journals of Building and Environment, Energies, Energies, and Energy and Buildings, and an associate editor for the Journal of Sustainable Cities and Society.
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