This paper presents an autonomous hierarchical control method for a direct expansion air conditioning system. The control objective is to maintain both thermal comfort and indoor air quality at required levels while reducing energy consumption and cost. This control method consists of two layers. The upper layer is an open loop controller that allows obtaining tradeoff steady states by optimizing the energy cost of the direct expansion air conditioning system and the value of predicted mean vote under the time-of-use price structure of electricity. On the other hand, the lower layer designs a model predictive controller, which is in charge of tracking the tradeoff steady states calculated by the upper layer. Control performance of the proposed control method is compared to a conventional control strategy. The results show that the proposed control strategy reduces the energy consumption and energy cost of the direct expansion air conditioning system by 31.38% and 33.85%, respectively, while maintaining both the thermal comfort and indoor air quality within acceptable ranges, which validate the proposed methodology in terms of both comfort and energy efficiency.