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This week Elementa’s London office took delivery of an important package from our colleagues in California – a prototype chair with the potential to slash office energy consumption and give every occupant their ideal thermal environment. The CBE ‘Personal Comfort System’ was developed as a research project by the Center for the Built Environment at UC Berkeley, California – of which Integral Group are an enthusiastic industry partner.

The fight for control of the thermostat is a daily challenge in shared workspaces. A setpoint that works for most will always be too hot for some and too cold for others – with significant negative impacts on wellbeing and productivity for the ‘losers’. To make matters worse, controlling temperatures within a narrow band our buildings consume more energy and limit the potential to employ low-energy and passive technologies such as natural ventilation.

In an ideal world we would each be able to adapt our local environment without conflict with colleagues at the same time reducing our carbon footprint. Our prototype PCS Chair, one of only 100 produced, makes that vision a reality; achieving personalised comfort by integrating low power, user-controlled, local heating and cooling systems. It incorporates low-energy fans, a reflective exterior, small heating elements, and an occupancy sensor to save energy when not in use. Battery powered, it can last several days between charges. A simple control in the armrest sets the heating and cooling intensity.

CBE’s field testing with industry partners has shown that comfort can be achieved for ambient temperatures between 16 and 29 degrees Celsius – opening the door for major energy savings. Having been field tested in our San Jose office, we will be gauging the effectiveness of this new technology in London – the next time you visit us please feel free to test it for yourself.

Notes:
“CBE is a place where prominent industry partners and internationally recognized researchers cooperate to produce substantial, holistic, and far-sighted research on buildings recognized researchers cooperate to produce substantial, holistic, and far-sighted research on buildings.” For more on the innovations behind the CBE PCS Chair please visit http://www.cbe.berkeley.edu/research/personal-comfort-systems.htm

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