Occupant thermal feedback for improved efficiency in university buildings

Publication Type

Journal Article

Date Published



Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems are responsible for more than half of theenergy consumed in many buildings on university campuses in the US. Despite the significant amount ofenergy spent on HVAC operations, thermal comfort conditions in campus buildings are frequently poor.Faulty assumptions or a lack of data regarding occupant comfort can lead to energy waste from over-heating or overcooling. Additionally, inadequate operational procedures and outdated technology makeit difficult for occupant needs to inform temperature management. For example, campuses frequentlyuse “work order” systems to manage temperature issues, but this process is slow and not widely usedby students, i.e., the majority of building occupants. Previous research suggests that thermal comfortfeedback from occupants can simultaneously drive energy efficiency and improve comfort in universitybuildings. However, these prior studies were limited to single buildings or zones inside buildings. Thispaper describes the campus-wide deployment of TherMOOstat, a software tool that solicits thermal feed-back from students, and analyzes its impact on energy use and energy management procedures. Thermalfeedback can be submitted any time from any building on central campus. Over 10,000 feedback submis-sions were received across one year, transforming occupants into meaningful sensors. The research teamexplored manual and automatic methods to link occupant thermal feedback to the energy managementsystem, resulting in improved efficiency and comfort.


Energy and Buildings



Year of Publication



241 - 250



Short Title

Energy and Buildings