Indoor Environmental Quality Laboratory
The University of Sydney’s Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning Indoor Environment Quality (IEQ) Laboratory is located in the Wilkinson Building on City Road (near Newtown). The IEQ Lab is a unique facility in which researchers can examine how the key IEQ factors - temperature, humidity, air movement, ventilation rates, air quality, daylight, artificial lighting, sound and acoustics – all interact to determine comfort, productivity and health outcomes for occupants. The facility consists of two purpose-built rooms in which all of these indoor environmental parameters can be precisely controlled or precisely transitioned across a broad range of values, in any combination, while a sample of typical building occupants (subjects) go about their typical daily activities for an exposure time (usually a few hours each experiment), all the while registering their subjective impressions (quality ratings) on a comfort questionnaire.
Enormous effort is going into making the IEQ lab’s two chambers look and feel as much as possible like normal rooms, not experimental labs, so as to maximise what environmental psychologists call “experiential realism” of the simulated indoor environments. Initially the Lab chambers’ fit-out will resemble grade-A commercial office spaces, but they’ve been specifically designed for maximum flexibility, so residential, industrial, retail, cinema/theatre, leisure facility, even vehicular (car, bus, train, plane) interiors can also be realistically simulated for modest reconfiguration costs.
Heading up The University of Sydney’s IEQ Lab is Professor Richard De Dear – a world-renowned expert in this field of indoor climate and air quality. Professor Richard de Dear’s major impact on the international IEQ research scene stems mainly from the adoption of his adaptive comfort model by numerous international standards organisations, including the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). The significance of these IEQ standards is that they are cross-referred to by building sustainability rating protocols such as America’s LEED and Australia’s Green Star. Research by de Dear and the University of Sydney’s IEQ Lab will continue to transform international research in the IEQ domain, but perhaps even more important is its demonstrable influence over green building design and engineering practice around the world.
Other academic staff from the University’s Architectural and Design Science discipline bring expertise in thermal perception, (Dr Christhina Candido), acoustics (Dr Densil Cabrera), environmental psychology (Associate Professor Bill Martens), lighting (Associate Professor Wendy Davis) and sustainable design (Professor Richard Hyde). Collectively this team represents the largest concentration of IEQ-related research personnel in the Australian university sector, and the new IEQ Lab presents an ideal platform for the group to realise the unique synergies afforded by their co-location at University of Sydney.
The “green building” industry is focussed on sustainability from two angles; a) reducing impact of buildings on the environment, and b) reducing negative impact of buildings on their occupants. Sustainability rating tools such as Green Building Council of Australia’s “Green Star” scheme reflect these dual foci by awarding points for resource efficiency and indoor environmental quality (IEQ). The overwhelming majority of green-building research investment to date has been on the former – resource efficiency of buildings, but the IEQ dimension remains relatively open, with only about three major players on the international scene (Copenhagen, Berkeley and Sydney). The University of Sydney, by virtue of its proximity to the burgeoning Asian building sectors such as China and India, has a competitive advantage over the Danish and US research groups in IEQ. This is evidenced by the high frequency of visiting professorship and keynote invitations the University of Sydney’s IEQ Lab Director (de Dear) is receiving (including Tsinghua, Chongqing, Xi’ An, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Waseda, University Putri Malaysia, CEPT in Ahmedabad, to mention just a few in the last 3 years). The timing of The University of Sydney’s IEQ Lab research initiative is perfect!
Learn more about the IEQ Lab Facilities.