Thermal comfort

Thermal comfort is the condition of mind that expresses satisfaction with the thermal environment; however, due to large physiological and psychological variations from one person to another, it is difficult to maintain thermal comfort in one given space for all (ASHRAE 2004), whether it be indoors or outdoors. It is crucial for human beings to maintain a constant core body temperature of 37 °C (98 °F). However, the temperature away from the core, such as on the skin and extremities for instance, can vary considerably with environmental and metabolic heat loads. To maintain the core body temperature, heat is exchanged with the environment by respiration (latent and sensible heat fluxes), radiation (longwave and shortwave), evaporation (latent heat flux), conduction (contact with solids), and convection (sensible heat flux) (Jendritzky and de Dear 2009). To this end, the human thermoregulatory system can be separated into active and passive interacting systems. The active system concerns the thermoregulatory response (e.g. shivering or perspiring) and the passive system deals with heat transfers at the body surface. When the body is under thermal comfort conditions, the body is under least strain because the active system is at its lowest activity level. However, increasing discomfort is associated with increasing strain. Research shows that people take action to improve their comfort conditions by modifying their clothing and metabolic rate when outdoors, or by interacting with the building when they are indoors, which are considered actions of adaptation (Nicol and Humphreys 2002). When adaptation opportunity is limited, departure from neutrality causes stress and dissatisfaction (Baker and Standeven 1996). According to Nikolopoulou et al. (2001), intrinsic factors such as past experience, expectations and time of exposure are also important for thermal comfort.

This entry was posted in . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *