Burqa-global warming link under investigation

ASHRAE says clothing insulation values influence HVAC system design

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ASHRAE says the insulation properties of non-Western clothing may require a different approach to HVAC design. Photo: Getty.
ASHRAE says the insulation properties of non-Western clothing may require a different approach to HVAC design. Photo: Getty.

The role of burqas and saris on thermal comfort is the subject of a new research undertaking by the American Society of Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

Comprehensive data exists on western clothing insulation values, but little research exists on non-western. Having information on attire like saris and burqas could influence the design of ventilation and air-con systems to provide the best thermal comfort for occupants.

“Given the growing energy needs of large nations such as India, China and Pakistan, all of which often have different clothing styles from western nations, knowing more about the impact of clothing on comfort is essential to improving ventilation and air-con systems for these countries,” said John Stoops.

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It is well-known that increased cooling loads due to low setpoint temperatures in the UAE, in particular, places more strain on the electricity infrastructure, which contributes directly to global warming by producing more carbon emissions.

Stoops is head of the project monitoring subcommittee for Technical Committee 2.1, Physiology & Human Environment, which is overseeing the project.

“The project also will look at how different fabrics and body postures and movements impact the insulation value of cloth. We expect to find that the results of non-western wear on thermal comfort will be different than that of western wear due to looser fit, long gowns and lighter materials that promote movement of air,” said Stoops.

1504-TRP, “Extension of the Clothing Insulation Database for Standard 55 and ISO 7730 to Provide Data for Non-Western Clothing Ensembles, Including Data on the Effect of Posture and Air Movement on that Insulation,” is one of 17 projects currently out for bid by ASHRAE. The deadline to submit proposals for all projects is 16 May.

Results of 1504 would be of fundamental importance to both ASHRAE and the International Organisation of Standardization (ISO) standards, building and building system designers and vehicle designers around the world.

Specifically, it could expand the scope and reach of ASHRAE Standard 55, Thermal Environmental Conditions for Human Occupancy, to a worldwide audience.

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