For my Environment Control Systems class, the professor asked us to perform a term long case study on anything class related. Since we covered the topic of human comfort as it relates to building performance, I immediately thought to study the lecture hall that hosts most of our large lectures, Lawrence Hall Room 177.
I am largely a kinesthetic learner. As anyone who suffers from this malady knows, sitting in a large lecture hall with the lights turned down and no natural light entering the room creates an impossible learning environment, but a very good sleeping environment. Consequently, of the forty lectures held this term, I slept through 38.
But how many other people fall asleep throughout class? And why? Certainly not everyone in lectures is a kinesthetic learner, as learning types are as varied as fingerprints. Yet, every lecture period, if I looked around I consistently saw people nodding off. The question that begs an answer is WHY?
The answer my group proposed was fairly simple: flood the room with 150 people and the HVAC system can’t handle the increased load, CO2 levels rise above the ASHRAE recommended value of 1,000 PPM (ASHRAE 62.1, no link provided since it costs $$$), which, by the way, is 1/5th the level that is legally enforceable, and people nod off.
Here’s what we found (high res pdf available upon request):