Sensible Home: Micro-environmental control through wearable personal sensors

EPA Grant Number: SU836164
Title: Sensible Home: Micro-environmental control through wearable personal sensors
Investigators: Wang, Jialiang
Institution: University of Cincinnati
EPA Project Officer: Sergeant, Anne
Phase: I
Project Period: September 1, 2015 through August 31, 2016
Project Amount: $15,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2015) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Awards , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , Sustainability , P3 Challenge Area - Built Environment


As the development of wearable environmental sensors and hand-held electronics in recent years, the real-time sensible and smart home is now real. Environmental control systems traditionally put user thermal and visual comfort first, expending HVAC system and lighting system freely to achieve given setpoints. These thermostats or lighting controllers use the same setpoints all day, and smarter controllers may allow users to vary set points by time of day and day of week, or learn user occupancy patters to intelligently control building systems. This has two disadvantages: 1) because the personal factors vary with different activities, clothing, and health status, such building environmental control may not be able to meet these real-time needs of occupants; 2) the whole building environmental control rather than the micro-environmental distributed control model may consume energy for unnecessary or inappropriate heating, cooling, ventilating and lighting.

However, the hypothesis of this proposed project is built upon micro-environment of occupants rather than spaces; that is, taking into account occupant’s physical factors (about health and activities) and micro-environmental factors (about a room or a space occupied), the real-time micro-environmental control can enhance occupants indoor comfort levels and building energy efficiency as well. This grant request is to investigate, develop, and deploy a prototype system for sustainable and healthy environmental controls.


  1. To have a prototype of personal wearable sensor that may benefit to human health and well-being;
  2. To develop a micro-environmental control system controlling smart building systems, thereby linking human comfort and well-being to building sustainability;
  3. To set up a mockup space as the test bed for demonstrating the performance and the potentials of the proposed system;
  4. To be implemented in healthcare building typologies like nursing homes, outpatient facilities, and even regular homes with healthy and sustainability concerns.

Expected Results:

This project will firstly develop an integrated quantitative comfort model including thermal comfort, visual comfort, acoustical comfort, and air qualities based on different people activities and behavioral types. Consequently, we will construct a working prototype of wearable sensor for monitoring both environmental qualities (radiant temperature, relative humidity, UV index, illuminance, sound levels, and air speed) and personal factors (skin temperature, heart rate, and movements through accelerometer). Lastly, a mockup space will be setup to perform validation and demonstration of benefits.

Supplemental Keywords:

Real-time control; micro-environment; personal factors; building energy efficiency; indoor comfort; healthcare; sensor and data-processing

P3 Phase II:

Sensible Home: Micro-environmental control through wearable personal sensors