Thermal comfort conference comes to Windsor

The second week of April saw the 9th Windsor Conference, the world’s premier conference on the subject of Thermal Comfort.

windsor castle
Over the course of three days, the conference included big ideas and stimulating discussions from leading researchers, design professional practitioners, manufacturers, policy makers and students, as well as talks from a select group of 100 of the top experts in the field of energy use in buildings. There was a wide selection of action groups and workshop sessions in the luxurious surroundings of an 18th Century royal family residence the grounds of Windsor Castle.

The conference provided an opportunity for leading thermal comfort experts to share their latest developments and explore ideas on the pressing subject of how to use comfort expertise to design buildings and comfort systems which are low energy, comfortable and sustainable.

The science of comfort developed in the 20th century around the needs of the HVAC (heating, ventilating and air conditioning) industry for whom comfort was a product, produced by machines to be sold to customers. Energy was cheap and notional comfort temperatures were established so that engineers could set their machines to produce a single indoor comfort temperature, usually in the range of 22 – 26C. Often two temperatures were employed over the year for summer and winter.

However the rising costs of energy and increasing pressure to reduce carbon emissions from buildings have made reform of our attitudes to comfort a growing imperative.  Increasingly adaptive and behavioural approaches to comfort have led people away from a sole focus on finding a comfort temperature towards looking for no, or low, energy options for indoor environments.

Comfort is an extremely complex subject and experts in physics, physiology, psychology and building design, among others, were involved with the conference, held at Cumberland Lodge in Windsor Great Park on the 7th – 10th April 2016. The main aim of the gathering was to explore ways of cutting costs in how we make people comfortable through the improved design and adaption of our buildings, behaviours, attitudes, lifestyles and machines to provide affordable comfort that has a minimum impact on the environment.

The next step will be to integrate a deeper understanding of comfort into the curricula of architects who lead the process of building design.

As a company who cares about the future of sustainable energy, Opus Energy was proud to be a sponsor of this event, which has helped to make advancements in the next generation of thinking on thermal comfort that will help us to stay comfortable in the rapidly changing decades ahead.