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  • Publication
    Developing an adaptive thermal comfort model for passenger terminal buildings situated in hot climates
    (University College Dublin. School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy, 2020)
    This study evaluates the use of international thermal comfort standards currently being used in the south terminal of the King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA). The airport is located in Jeddah, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). The study was prompted by the hypothesis that the hot climate experienced in KSA, the acclimatization of those in the region, coupled with the widespread wearing of traditional clothing, justifies a unique model of thermal comfort. The south terminal of KAIA currently uses set points of 20-24 °C (ASHRAE-based comfort model). Most international thermal comfort standards are based on experiments that were conducted in moderate climates. These studies have two particular shortcomings in the context of those living in hot climates: they fail to consider that people in other climatic regions could have different thermal expectations and preferences, and many disregard the role of outdoor temperature on thermal comfort. The international standards prescribe temperature set points that are often too low for people who live in extremely hot and humid climates. Keeping the temperature at the international set point requires excessive amounts of energy and is wasteful and expensive. Public policy demands that the thermal control strategies in public buildings be evaluated to ensure that they are operating efficiently. Airports are of particular concern because they have HVAC systems that consume a disproportionate amount of energy relative to their size. This study, based on passenger surveys and energy simulation, considers the effectiveness of developing a model of thermal comfort as an alternative control strategy for the KAIA terminal and assesses its energy impact. In order to determine new temperature set points that might better serve the needs of the passengers and maximize energy efficiency in KAIA, this study: a) Conducted detailed surveys of passengers in the airport terminal; b) Obtained measurements of both physical and personal variables; c) Recorded behavior patterns of passengers; d) Collected all relevant data on the conditions inside and out of the terminal; e) Considered the impact that traditional garments may have on thermal comfort; f) Used the data from the surveys to create a new model of thermal comfort; g) Used computer simulation programs to test and compare a developed thermal comfort model with the set point currently used in the building. The results of the survey demonstrate the unsuitability of the ASHRAE-based comfort model (set temperatures of 20-24 °C) currently used in the airport. The data from the survey is used to derive new models of thermal comfort using regression analysis. Computer simulation demonstrated that the new set comfort temperatures obtained from created models could significantly increase the operational efficiency of the terminal. Implementing these models would also reduce the operating cost of the KAIA, lower the CO2 emissions and improve the comfort of passengers. More particularly, the results of the research demonstrate the unsuitability of employing generic comfort models and suggest that a more climate-appropriate strategy should be adopted globally. The Gulf Region Countries do not currently have climatic-specific thermal comfort standards nor intensive field studies that would support their development. Moreover, a vast majority of thermal comfort research is focused on Australia, Europe and the USA and some areas of Asia. This thesis offers an integrated system and methodological approach to evaluate, measure, and analyze both environmental and personal variables of thermal comfort as well as verifying the results and virtually testing the implications on occupants and the building. The objective of carrying out such a study is based on the challenge of achieving acceptable levels of occupant thermal comfort while optimizing the energy efficiency of buildings.