Now that we have one full academic year of fan operation under our belt, ECO is planning the sustaining operation for the fan (see our previous blog posts about the Giedt Fans here and here). We are also evaluating additional classrooms to install fans in to improve campus comfort and put your TherMOOstat votes to work.
Making the fan smarter
We’ve shared that the fan speed in Giedt 1001 is controlled by votes received in TherMOOstat. However, we write code to instruct the fan when to turn on and shut off based on expected occupancy and set a default speed when there are no votes received. In order to make the fan even smarter, we are adjusting that code to take outdoor air temperature into account.
The goal is to make the fan operate at the optimal speed, based on how it feels outside. That way, you should feel comfortable when first entering the class and throughout the lecture.
One important consideration when thinking about classroom comfort is that there is often an adjustment period. Think of how you get to class. Do you power walk or bike and arrive just in time for the lecture to begin? Or do you stroll leisurely or just walk over from the classroom next door? Depending on your activity level before class, you can feel warm upon entering a room, but then feel perfect, or even chilly once your heart rate has stabilized and you’re inactive for a short time. Through our research, we’ve found that there is a comfort band, relative to the outdoor air temperature, that can be used in our classrooms to achieve optimal comfort.
However, everyone’s comfort level is somewhat different; so you’ll still have the power to vote if you’re still not comfy! As a reminder, we love to hear when you’re comfortable too, so don’t forget to vote when you feel “perfect” in Giedt 1001.
Behind the scenes improvements
In addition to making improvements to make the fan operate successfully year round, we’re also making changes that you can’t see or feel. One of the cool things about this project was that ECO designed the setup and operation of the fan, meaning that we can also make adjustments based on lessons learned. During the pilot phase, we noted some efficiencies that could help us to better maintain the fan. This involves partnering with campus IT to more quickly identify and resolve connectivity issues that sometimes occur with a wifi-connected fan. Additionally, we are working on remote fan access from our office to verify it is operating efficiently at all times. For example, if many people are too hot or cold, we can make manual adjustments to improve the comfort level. Finally, we are making improvements to get better access to fan data. That way, we can better track and analyze energy savings and develop insights that will improve the fan in the future!
We hope you enjoyed learning more about our fan project! If you have any questions or would like to provide feedback regarding the fans, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.