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Algorithm determines ideal indoor temperature, cuts energy costs

It can be jarring to walk into your office on a hot summer day and have to wear a sweater indoors because the air conditioning is too strong. Unfortunately, this kind of temperature whiplash is a reality some of us know all too well.

Office productivity has even been known to suffer because the environment isn’t comfortable,  leading to epic battles amongst employees over temperature control.

But now, a new system designed by researchers at Concordia University uses a complex algorithm to find the ideal temperature while keeping energy costs down.

The algorithm factors in temperature, humidity, outside environment, natural light, and ventilation to keep an indoor space comfortable.

“Improving the quality of the office-building environment impacts the comfort of employees, which in turn influences their productivity,” said Hashem Akbari, the co-author of the study.

Because it factors in each employee’s personal preferences and works with sensors placed around the office, the system actually cuts energy costs quite a bit. Otherwise, excess air conditioning in areas where it is not needed or desired increases waste.

The system was first tested in an open-air office in Montreal that had four occupants in each of the five different zones in the building.

The researchers then created a mathematical model of each employee’s preferences and included other factors like ventilation and natural light.

“The proposed method is able to act as the brain behind the decision-making system of a cloud-based energy management platform,” said Farhad Mofidi, a recent Ph.D. graduate in building engineering and a fellow researcher on the project.

Only time will tell if the new system will catch on in offices across the globe. But combining green technology with cost savings and increased comfort could be a winning model.

By Kay Vandette, Staff Writer

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