RMI Redefines Thermal Comfort

In December 2015, the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) made news when they unveiled their new Innovation Center in Basalt, Colorado. As a sustainability and energy efficiency non-profit, RMI sought to inspire and drive the industry by constructing a deep green building that achieves net zero energy and has no central heating and cooling system.

The RMI Innovation Center redefines thermal comfort through passive and integrative design. They outline 5 steps they used to achieve thermal comfort through design and science:

  1. Target all six variables in the thermal comfort formula known as the predicted mean vote (PMV): temperature, humidity, activity, clothing, air velocity, mean radiant temperature (the average of all surface temperatures in the room).
  2. Focus first on reducing loads with passive design such as higher insulated windows
  3. Target personal comfort solutions since each individual will be affected by many variables
  4. Build an integrated project team with clear, consistent documentation
  5. Openly discuss and manage risks and contingency plans

“The Innovation Center is not about technology, but about design. This building achieves beyond net-zero energy because we have gotten better at choosing and combining technologies to maximize building performance.” –Amory Lovins (Chairman/Chief Scientist, RMI)

To read the RMI blog in more detail, see: http://blog.rmi.org/blog_2016_05_10_top_5_steps_to_redefining_thermal_comfort