Paper Conference

Proceedings of BSA Conference 2022: Fifth Conference of IBPSA-Italy


Investigating the Role of Humidity on Indoor Wellness in Vernacular and Conventional Building Typologies

Suchi Priyadarshani, Roshan R Rao, Monto Mani, Daniel Maskell

Abstract: Moisture in air is essential for human life. It drives all physiological processes and determines occupant wellness. As a crucial parameter of Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ), it is regulated by building typology and its constituent materials. Besides affecting heating and cooling energy requirements, indoor moisture also determines occupants' comfort and health. Occupant comfort, commonly referred to as thermal comfort, is paramount for building and indoor environment design. Currently available building simulation tools majorly incorporate temperature-related comfort models like PMV, PPD, and adaptive thermal models. In conjunction with temperature, indoor moisture levels impact occupants' skin-related and respiratory comfort, resulting in health issues such as skin irritation, allergies, respiratory infections, asthma, etc. Humidity has not been adequately dealt with in comfort studies. This study proposes a novel computational approach derived from an existing model to explain and assess humidity-related comfort in buildings. The study also involves real-time monitoring of indoor-outdoor temperature and humidity and occupant comfort-votes. The hygroscopic properties of building materials impact the regulation of indoor moisture, thereby impacting occupant comfort and health. This article examines humidity-related comfort aspects between conventional and vernacular building typologies. Results from the simulation have been used to explain the comfort votes obtained from an on-field survey of occupants. Skin temperature and wettedness derived through energy balance between the human skin and the indoor air parameters can be used as an indicator to assess skin-related comfort in indoor environments. Comfort is an essential indicator of wellness in an indoor environment. Clarity on approaches to evaluate different aspects of comfort attributed to building materials is crucial for built environment design for occupant wellness. Incorporating humidity-associated comfort parameters in building simulation tools could be beneficial in selecting materials for building design to cater to varying functionalities and health co-morbidities.
Pages: 207 - 215