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Investigating dependencies between indoor environmental parameters: thermal, air quality and acoustic perception.

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Abstract

In buildings, occupants’ interactions with systems and their behaviour is often influenced by environmental discomfort; thermal, visual, acoustic or air quality. Many studies have investigated the relationships between occupant behaviour and one of these discomforts, but very few studies have addressed multi-stressor effects. This paper reviews the results of a field study in two office buildings (N=1,420). Questions were applied to estimate the state of seven environmental controls and three environmental parameters; thermal perception, air quality and background noise level. As the data is ordinal, linear-by-linear association
tests followed by Goodman Kruskal Gamma tests were undertaken to ascertain the significance and the strength of relationships between the three environmental parameters. Most results showed no relationship between the parameters; only a modest association between air quality and background noise level. Further analysis
explored the relationships between the three parameters when environmental controls were at play, e.g. state of window opening or air-conditioning. In such cases, moderate to strong relationships were uncovered, notably between thermal perception and air quality. These new insights may inform the basis for drawing causal relationships between occupant behaviour and environmental parameters in a view to re-thinking and managing behaviours in affordable comfort for all.