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Personal comfort in the work place

Everyone has their own ideas about what constitutes a pleasant interior climate. In many offices, the users are unable to regulate the temperature and lighting themselves, leading to arguments about levels of comfort. TNO is working on the development of a personal climate system that will allow employees to set the temperature and lighting at their own individual work place. The system means that comfort levels can be significantly improved and energy saved.
The TNO Productive Office with one of the first versions of a personal climate system

In the past few years, TNO has carried out various research projects in relation to personal comfort, often in collaboration with private-sector parties and other research institutes. The projects involved small-scale user research in semi-laboratory conditions, in which a great deal of knowledge and experience were gained of how heating, cooling, and lighting can be regulated at an individual level. In the process, it became clear that personal climate systems have the potential to improve the levels of comfort of users (and, therefore, productivity). As it is possible to adjust the settings of the central climate control system within a wider range, personal climate systems will allow energy to be saved; only work places actually in use will be heated, cooled, or lit to the desired degree. Obviously, the extent of any energy savings will depend on the number of employees present, the type of building, and the efficiency of the central climate control system. Personal climate systems are plug and play, which means they can easily be used in existing offices in order to raise levels of comfort.

Application in practice

For the TKI ImPeKt project (ImPeKt: Implementatie Persoonlijk Klimaat (‘personal climate implementation’)), TNO and Ahrend, Trilux, Abel Delft, TU Delft, ING en Sodexo are developing a prototype of a personal climate system. Using TU Delft and TNO-based knowledge, Ahrend, Trilux, and Abel Delft are constructing the prototypes of the system.

TNO is also developing the controls, while Sodexo and ING are each making a test location available, at which a total of 50 work places are being set up that include the new system. The controls being developed by TNO are self-learning comfort controls, which automatically work out the personal preferences of individual users from, among other things, the use of the user interface in different circumstances. TU Delft and TNO are jointly conducting research among users at the test locations in order to determine the levels of long-term energy consumption and comfort. ImPeKt is the first project in which the effect of a personal climate system is being demonstrated in practice. The system will be further optimized on the basis of this practical experience. An implementation strategy will also be created with the various stakeholders in order to apply the system on a large scale.

The TKI ImPeKt project was launched on 1 January 2016 and is being carried out with the help of a Topsector Energie grant from the Ministry of Economic Affairs. It will last around three years, including the 18-month user survey.

At the bottom of this page, a presentation on personal comfort may be downloaded that was given at the Wellbeing at Work conference in May 2016.

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