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Designing Air-Distribntinn Systems

Te Maximize Cemfert
By David A. John, P.E., Member ASHRAE

n air-distribution system that provides occupant thermal comfort can


be a compiicated system to predict and analyze. Providing comfort

depends on variables from the obvious thermal conditions in a space, which


include radiant temperature, air speed, air temperature and humidity,
to the less obvious occupant metabolic rate and even choice in clothing.
A system can be successfully designed by understanding what makes us
comfortable and selecting the proper air-distribution products and layout.
This article discusses how HVAC designers can select, size, and place outlets
using methods described in the room
air-distribution chapters in the 2009
ASHRAE HandbookFundamentals to
maximize occupant thermal comfort as
defined in ASHRAE Standard 55-2010,
Thermal Environmental Conditions for
Human Occupancy.
Standard 55-2010 addresses factors that determine human comfort in
20

ASHRAE Journal

a space. Until recently, the air diffuser


performance index (ADPI) as outlined
in Standard 113, Appendix B, was a
method to predict occupant comfort.
The cognizant committee for ASHRAE
Standard 113-2009, Method of Testing
for Room Air Diffusion, changed the
language used in the ASHRAE Handbook to indicate ADPI is a measure of
predicted room air thermal mixing, not
a direct measure of occupant comfort.

ashrae.org

This article attempts to define the


space comfort as defined by Standard
55-2010, noting that this does not tell
a designer how to select or space airdistribution devices. Using ADPI, a
designer can select, size, and space
outlets but can only measure the thermal mixing, not the level of occupant
comfort.

Predicting and Quantifying Comfort


The purpose of Standard 55-2010
is to indicate the combination of indoor thermal environmental factors
and personal factors that will produce
thermal environmental conditions acceptable to a majority of space occupants. The variables that define
comfort in the standard are: metabolic
rate, clothing insulation, air temperature, radiant temperature, air speed,
and humidity.
About the Author
David A. John, P.E., is general manager, vice president of A.D.E. Engineered Solutions of Florida, Inc.

September 2012

-1 Slightly Cool
-2 Cool
-3 Cold

/
\
\

Figure

\
/
/

2:

Pre-

dicfed percenfage
dissatisfied based
on predicted mean
vote from Sfandard 55-2010.

y
4
-2.0

-1.5

Figure 1: ASHRAE thermal sensation


scale from Sfandard 55-201 0.

Predict Occupant Comfort

Standard 55-2010 has been updated from the 2004 standard


with provisions that allow elevated air speed to broadly offset
the need to cool the air in warm conditions. This can be applied to natural ventilation applications, and to conventional
overhead (and other) air-distribution systems up to an air
speed of 150 fpm (0.8 m/s) with no local control, and up to
240 fpm (1.2 m/s) with local control.
Standard 55-2010 also includes graphical and computer
methods for determining comfort. The two methods include the
combination of air temperature and mean radiant temperature
as well as humidity, air speed, metabolic rate, and clothing insulation. The ASHRAE Thermal Comfort Tool, Version 2, can

-1.0

-0.5

0.5

1.0

1.5

2.0

PREDICTED MEAN VOTE ( PMV )

The thermal comfort chapter (Chapter 9) in the 2009


ASHRAE Handboo/<Fundamentals details the science behind comfort and describes these variables in detail. The comfort obtained in a space is most often determined by the outlets
selected, their size and how they are placed in that space. In
an overhead forced air system (most commonly specified in
U.S. office buildings), the outlet manufacturers' catalog data
is used to properly select and space outlets. In most cases,
the outlet performance was tested per ASHRAE Standard 702006, Method of Testing the Performance of Air Outlets and
Air Inlets.
To properly design an air-distribution system to maximize
comfort, the designer can use the outlet performance from the
catalog data to maximize mixing and minimize temperature
gradients in the occupied zone. A method that can be used to
predict mixing in the occupied zone is using the ratio of the
throw distance at 50 fpm (0.25 m/s) to the horizontal length of
the zone. This ratio is referred to as Tg/L and is documented
in the room air-distribution chapter of Handbook^Fundamentals. The T^^/L ration can be used to predict the resulting air-distribution performance index, giving the designer a
fairly good estimate of the mixing within a zone.
The test method to measure the ADPI for a space is Standard 113-2009. This is a method of test to measure air velocity
and temperature within the occupied zone.

September 201 2

0 Neutral

00

-1-1 Slightly Warm

PP 3= 10 3-95 e x p ( -0.03 353- F=MV^ 0.217 9 PMV

+2 Warm

PREDICTED PERCENTAGE
OF DISSATISFIED ( P P D )

-1-3 Hot

be used to calculate comfort conditions and is available from


the ASHRAE bookstore. The graphical method can be used by
designers to meet the Standard 55-2010 definition of comfort.
Predicted Mean Vote & Predicted Percent Dissatisfied

All the methods for predicting occupant comfort outlined in


Standard 55-2010 use the ASHRAE thermal sensation scale
that was developed to quantify people's thermal sensations.
The predicted mean vote (PMV) index predicts the mean
response of a large group of people according to the ASHRAE
thermal sensation scale shown in Figure 1 (Figure 5.2.1.2
from Standard 55-2010). The PMV model predicts steadystate comfort responses. The predicted mean vote/predicted
percent dissatisfied (PMV/PPD) model is widely used and
accepted for design and field assessment of comfort conditions. ISO Standard 7730 includes computer code to calculate
PMV and PPD for a wide range of parameters. The equation
to manually obtain the predicted mean vote for a space was
developed by R Ole Fanger (Chapter 9, HandbookFundamentals) and is fairly complex to solve. The equation includes
the following variables:
M = metabolic rate, met
I^l = cloth index, clo
V = air velocity, m/s
,. = mean radiant temperature, C
t^ = ambient air temperature, C
P^. = vapor pressure of water in ambient air. Pa
A PPD of 10% corresponds to the PMV range of 0.5, and
even with a PMV = 0, about 5% of the people are dissatisfied.
The PMV model defines comfort with +3, +2, -2 or-3 results,
which indicate discomfort {Figure 2).
Metabolic Rate
Also included in the Standard 55-2010 definition of comfort
is the metabolic rate for the occupants. In the standard, the unit
used to express the metabolic rate is the met, which is defined
as the metabolic rate of a sedentary person who is seated and
quiet (1 met = 58.1
ASHRAE Journal

21

RELATIVE HUMIDITY
80

When applying this Graphic per Section 5.2.1.1, the follov^'ing limitations appiy:
Applies to Operative Temperature oniy - cannot be applied based on dry
bulb temperature atohe. See Appendix C for acceptabie approximations.
Appiies oniy when requirements of Sections 5.2.3 through 5.2.5.2 are met.
For other compliance paths, see Sectioh 5.2.1.2 for the
Computer Modei Method and Section 5.3 for the
Optional Method for Naturaiiy Conditioned Spaces.
For further compiianoe requirements,
see Sections 6 and 7.

Computer modei analysis required


for humidity ratios above 0.012:
See Section 5.5.1.2

Comfort zone moves ieft with:


,.-* Higher clothing
Higher metabolic rate
Higher radiant temperature
See Section 5.2.1.2

z o n e l.5.2.3todetermine
\
\ cooiing effect of
elevated air speed

Comfort zone moves nght Vi/ith


Lower clothing
Loviier metabolic rate
Loviier radiant temperature
See Section 5.2.1.2

.002

- No lower humidify
recommendation for graphical
method: See Section 5.2.?
OPERATIVE TEMPERATURE

("F)

{'/ Dry bulb * 'h MRT for still air)

Figure 3: Graphic comfort zone method from Standard 55-201 0.

The metabolic rates ranging from 1.0 to 1.3 is typical of


an office worker in near sedentary physical activity such as
working at a desk in a seated position. More information on
metabolic rate can be found in the Standard 55-2010 Normative Appendix A activity levels. Also, a detailed discussion of
metabolic rate can be found in Chapter 9, HandbookFundamentals.
Ciotiiing insulation
Clothing insulation is measured in units of clo. As a reference, the 0.5 clo is typical for an office environment in the
summer and 1.0 clo is typical for the office environment in
the winter. The Normative Appendix B, Clothing Insulation,
in the standard is a good reference for calculating different clo
values for occupants. Clothing insulation is discussed in detail
in Chapter 9, HandbookFundamentals.
Radiant Temperature Asymmetry
Occupant comfort is also affected by the thermal radiation
field around the body, which can cause discomfort. The radiant temperature asymmetry is caused by factors such as hot or
cold surfaces or direct sunlight. The radiant temperature may
22

ASHRAE Journal

differ from the dry-bulb temperature in a space. Standard 552010 does include allowable radiant temperature asymmetry
for a space. Also, Chapter 9, HandbookFundamentals, is a
good reference.
Standard 55-2010 lists four methods for evaluating comfort:
1. Graphic Comfort Zone Method for Typical Indoor Environments;
2. Computer Model Method for General Indoor Applications;
3. Graphical Elevated Air Speed Method; and
4. Standard Effective Temperature (SET) Model.
All four methods include human factors that determine
comfort such as metabolic rate and clothing insulation, and
thermal factors such as space temperature, air velocity, humidity, and radiant temperature.
1. Graphic Comfort Zone Method
The graphical method for predicting comfort in Standard
55-2010 assumes the occupants' metabolic rate is between
1.0 and 1.3 met and the clothing worn is between 0.5 and 1.0
clo (typical for an office). This method predicts comfort for
an acceptance level of 80%. This is based on a 10% PMVashrae.org

September 201 2

1.1

TEMPERATURE RISE, 'C


2.2

OPERATIVE TEMPERATURE (F=)

3.3

72

300

76

79

90
276

82

UJ

B
tL

0,0
0.0

2.0

4.0
TEMPERATURE RISE, "F

6,0

8,0

IB

t9

20

21

22

23

25

26

27

28

29

30

31

32

OPERATIVE TEMPERATURE (C)

Figure 4 (left): Graphical elevated air speed method. Figure 5 (right): Standard effective temperature (SET) method.
Diffuser Type
Characteristic Length L
^
PPD index plus an additional 10% dissatisfaction that may occur from local
High Sidewall Grille
Distance to Wall Perpendicular to Jet
thermal discomfort. Air speeds are not
Circular Ceiling Pattern Diffuser
Distance to Closest Wall or Intersecting Air Jet
greater than 40 fpm (0.20 m/s). The
Length of Room in Direction of Jet Flow
Sill Grille
method includes two areas of comfort:
one for clothing insulation of 0.5 clo
Ceiling Slot Diffuser
Distance to Wall or Midplane Between Outlets
and one for 1.0 clo (Figure 3).
Distance to Midplane Between Outlets Plus
Light Troffer Diffusers
Added to Standard 55-2010 is preDistance from Ceiling to Top of Occupied Zone
diction of comfort using elevated air
Distance to Wall or Midplane Between Outlets j
speeds. The graphical method includes VCross-Flow Pattern Ceiling Diffusers
Figure 4 to calculate the required air Table 1: Characteristic room length for several diffusers from 2009 Handbook
speed for applications with both mean
Fundamenfals.
and radiant temperatures. This figure
allows for elevated air speeds of more than 150 fpm (0.76 ASHRAE Thermal Comfort Tool
m/s).
The ASHRAE Thermal Comfort Tool is a convenient method
to predict PMV/PPV for a space. The tool allows designers to
2. Computer Model Method
predict PMV based on standard conditions, elevated air speeds,
The computer model method predicts the PMV and PPD for and adaptive method. The program allows users to input air tema given space. The standard includes computer code (Norma- perature, air speed, humidity ratio, mean radiant temperature,
tive Appendix D) that assumes an average metabolic rate be- activity level (that converts to met) and clothing (that converts
tween 1.0 and 2.0 met, and where clo values of the occupants to clo). The program output shows PMV and PPD, as well as inare 1.5 or less.
dicates whether the selection complies with Standard 55-2010.

3. Graphical Elevated Air Speed Method

Selecting Outlets to Maximize Comfort

Included in Standard 55-2010 is the elevated air speed


method that allows for higher space temperatures and room
air velocities. The comfort level obtained depends on whether or not the occupants have local control of air speed. This
method applies to a lightly clothed person with clothing insulation between 0.5 and 0.7 clo who is engaged in near sedentary physical activity with a metabolic rate between 1.0
and 1.3 met.

Standard 55-2010 can be used by designers to predict the


comfort level of a space based on PMV, but the standard does
not indicate to designers where to locate air-distribution devices. For an overhead forced air system, the tools available
to the designer to maximize the occupant comfort level is the
manufacturers' outlet performance obtained per Standard 702006, and the Tf/L ratio to predict the ADPI.
Method of Testing for Room Air Diffusion

4. Standard Effective Temperature (SET) Model

This method in Standard 55-2010 uses a thermophysiological simulation of the human body and skin heat loss
to predict the occupant's comfort level. This model enables
air velocity effects on thermal comfort to be related across
a wide range of air temperatures, radiant temperatures, and
humidity ratios (Figure 5).
24

ASHRAE Journal

A method to calculate the ADPI value in a space with overhead mixing air distribution operating in cooling is outlined in
Standard 113-2009, which defines a repeatable method of testing
steady-state air diffiision performance of an air-distribution system in occupied zones of building spaces. The standard is based
on air velocity and air temperature distributions at specified cooling loads and operating conditions. The standard can be applied to
ashrae.org

September 2012

furnished and unfurnished spaces, actual


or laboratory conditions, with or without
occupants. The standard is not applicable
to naturally ventilated building space.
Appendix B of Standard 113-2009
states that the test procedures can be used
to generate the air distribution performance index for a space. The ADPI is a
single-number rating of the air diffusion
performance of a system of diffusers, as
installed in a defined space, for a specified
supply air delivery rate and space load.
ADPI is based only on air speed and effective draft temperature and is not directly
related to the wet-bulb temperature or relative humidity. Wet-bulb temperature, humidity, and similar effects (such as mean
radiant temperature) should be accounted
for according to Standard 55-2010.
The ADPI method requires calculating the eff^ective draft temperature at
multiple points. The effective draft temperature is:
i = ia.-fc-0-07(v,-30)F
where
([) = effective draft temperature at
test point n
tacn~ corrected temperature at test
point n
t^^ = average test zone temperature
v^ = time-averaged speed at test
point n
ADPI = Number of test points that meet
effective draft temperature criteria
(-3F and +2F) %
Total number of test points
ADPI is for traditional overhead airdistribution systems under cooling operation only. The results can be used as
an indicator of occupant comfort in a
space. A high percentage of people will
be comfortable under sedentary conditions where the effective draft temperature is between -3F and +2F with an
air speed of less than or equal to 70 fpm
(-1.7C and +1.1C with an air speed
less than or equal to 0.35 m/s). The
ADPI is the percent of test points that
meet these criteria.
Using TQ/L to Select Outlets

A designer can use the ratio of T^Q/L


to predict the level of mixing in a zone
26

ASHRAE Journal

r
Terminal Device

Room
Load,
Btu/hft2

Circular Ceiling
Diffusers

Range of
TsolL

68

60

1.8

72

70

1.5 to 2.2

40

1.6

78

70

1.2 to 2.3

20

1.5

85

80

1.0 to 1.9

<10

1.4

90

80

0.7 to 2.1

80

0.8

76

70

0.7 to 1.3

60

0.8

83

80

0.7 to 1.2

40

0.8

88

80

0.5 to 1.5

20

0.8

93

80

0.4 to 1.7

<10

0.8

99

80

0.4 to 1.7

80

1.7

61

60

1.5 to 1.7

60

1.7

72

70

1.4 to 1.7

40

1.3

86

80

1.2 to 1.8

20

0.9

95

90

0.8 to 1.3

80

0.7

94

90

0.6 to 1.5

60

0.7

94

80

0.6 to 1.7

40

0.7

94

20

0.7

94

80

0.3

85

80

0.3 to 0.7

60

0.3

88

80

0.3 to 0.8

40

0.3

91

80

0.3 to 1.1

20

0.3

92

80

0.3 to 1.5

60

2.5

86

80

<3.8

40

1.0

92

90

<3.0

20

1.0

95

90

<4.5

11 to 50

2.0

96

90

1.4 to 2.7

11 to 50

2.0

96

80

1.0 to 3.4 y

Sill Grille,
Straight Vanes

Sill Grille,
Spread Vanes

Ceiling Slot
Diffusers (for

Light Troffer
Diffusers
Cross-Flow
IPattern Diffusers

For ADPI
Greater Than

1.8

80
High Sidewall
Grilles

Maximum
75o/Lfor
ADPI
Maximum ADPI

Table 2: Air diffusion performance index (ADPI) selection guide from 2009 HandbookFundamenfals,

(this would not apply to naturally ventilated space, or high velocity, high
temperature designs). This method
can be used to select the type of outlet, the size, and throw distance and
spacing to maximize the performance
of an outlet. Tg is the manufacturers'
cataloged throw data to 50 fpm (0.25
m/s) and L is the characteristic length
of the space being evaluated. L is defined per Table 1 (Page 24) dependent
of the outlet type and layout.
By determining the value of T^g
from a manufacturer's catalog, and
measuring the characteristic length
L from the projects plans, the ratio
can be determined and the predicted
ADPI value can be estimated from
Table 2.
ashrae.org

Conclusion

Designers can select design conditions using Standard 55-2010 based on


clothing, metabolic rate, humidity, radiant temperature, and air speed. For an
overhead forced air system, the outlet
can be selected, sized, and placed using
data obtained using the testing procedures as outline in Standard 70-2006 and
the Tg/L method prescribed in Chapter 20, Space Air Diffusion, in the 2009
ASHRAE HandbookFundamentals, to
predict ADPI values. By selecting and
placing outlets to achieve ADPI values
of 80% or more, the design can predict a
well thermally mixed system. The resulting level of comfort can be predicted and
measured using one of the four methods
prescribed in Standard 55-2010.
September 2012

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