Noise generated by some A/C units and ventilation systems reduces people's willingness to use A/C. But manufacturers of systems have no scientific basis for deciding the trade-off between temperature and noise that will be considered least annoying by users. Such information is needed to help designers provide the best possible indoor environments, thereby increasing occupants' comfort and productivity.

ASHRAE approved funding totaling $575,383 for seven research projects in the areas of design tools, operation and maintenance tools, indoor air quality, comfort and health, refrigeration, environmentally safe materials and energy conservation at its 2003 Winter Meeting. Among them is 1128-TRP, Trade-Off Function for the Combined Effects of Noise and Temperature on Human Comfort and Performance. The investigators are Amy Musser, Ph.D., Lily Wang, Ph.D., and Dale Tiller, with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Omaha, Neb. The project is expected to take 18 months to complete with ASHRAE contributing $86,736.

It is important for design engineers to know the effect of different factors of the indoor environment on people. This information can be used in allocating funds to provide optimal comfort for occupants. "Optimizing the indoor environment has the potential to improve not only human comfort but also occupants' performance," Musser said.

Optimization of the indoor environment also is an important factor in determining construction and operating costs and energy usage in buildings, according to Musser.