Standard Effective Temperature (SET) and Thermal Comfort

Green Building

Standard Effective Temperature (SET) and Thermal Comfort

Originally published on January 18, 2016 by BNP Media through the Architectural Roofing & Waterproofing Blog.

Recently, the U.S. Green Building Council adopted three new pilot credits on resilient design for use by LEED project teams for innovation credit.

One pilot credit in particular, Passive Survivability and Functionality During Emergencies, endeavors to ensure that buildings will maintain reasonable (i.e., “survivable”) functionality, including access to potable water, in the event of an extended power outage or loss of heating fuel. Power outages are frequently one of the primary impacts of natural disasters and there are growing concerns about terrorist actions targeting energy infrastructure.

This Passive Survivability pilot credit includes three options, two of which are required to earn a LEED point. A detailed description of all three Resilient Design pilot credits can be found on the Resilient Design Institute’s website at

Although the Passive Survivability pilot credit language is fairly self-explanatory, one of the three options introduces a thermal comfort metric that will be unfamiliar to many design professionals – standard effective temperature (or SET). Option 1 of the pilot credit addresses thermal resilience and requires thermal modeling to demonstrate that a building’s interior environment will maintain “livable temperatures” during a power outage that lasts seven days during the peak summertime and wintertime conditions of a typical year. The credit language goes on to carefully defined the parameters of “livable temperatures” with regard to SET.

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