While energy use is a key component in building management, it is important that resource use not overshadow a building's purpose: to provide an adequate (or even enhanced) space for humans or machines to operate. Managing this interdependency between comfort and energy is not easy, but it's essential for high performance spaces as changing occupant comfort demands can consume significant amounts of energy. While optimizing each in isolation is simpler, the results could lead to less than ideal outcomes.
As managers seek to optimize both energy use and comfort, well-placed sensors and data collection systems can provide objective, useful, and actionable information. Building energy meters separated by panel, circuit, or receptacle are useful in determining, where, when, and how energy is being used. Comfort can be divided into visual, thermal, acoustic, and air quality categories. Sensors are able to measure each category in order to determine which aspects of comfort might be insufficient. Ultimately, the sensor data can be analyzed to establish linkages and tradeoffs and can lead to solutions that optimize both factors. Four different projects are presented to demonstrate how energy and comfort can be balanced at a building, campus, and program level.