Teaching the concept of adaptive thermal comfort in building design education
Paper i proceeding, 2020

Traditional building design education in the disciplines of building services, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, etc. focusses on quantifiable factors, i.e. factors which can be subject of calculation, simulation and dimensioning. Since non-quantifiable factors are not part of calculation or simulation models, there is a tendency that they are not adequately considered in education and, as a result, in building planning and operation. In the case of human thermal comfort, building professionals are required to understand the mechanisms and impact of non-quantifiable factors related to human thermal comfort and health, most of which are part of the adaptive thermal comfort concept. This paper identifies the challenges in teaching the concept of adaptive thermal comfort through a collection of lived experiences of the authors. The paper then proposes appropriate intended learning outcomes and teaching methods to equip students with the background knowledge, understanding and skills required to consider human adaptation in their designs. It is widely accepted that integrated design is a precondition for a building design that functions well, offers sufficient comfort for their users and can be operated in a sustainable way. Integrated building design requires that different disciplines work closely together and understand and respect their different focus areas and languages. Herein the case of human thermal comfort requires engineers who understand the mechanisms and impact of non-quantifiable factors on human well-being indoors. Within the work of Annex 69: “Strategy and practice of adaptive thermal comfort in low energy buildings” we developed a framework and a guideline for adopting adaptive thermal comfort principles in design and operation of buildings, which may serve as a complementary tool in an integrated design process and inclusion of adaptive thermal comfort in education.

learning outcome

indoor climate

adaptive thermal comfort

human factors

integrated design


building design



Despoina Teli

Chalmers, Arkitektur och samhällsbyggnadsteknik, Installationsteknik

Runa T. Hellwig

Marcel Schweiker

Joon Ho Choi

M. C.Jeffrey Lee

Rodrigo Mora

Rajan Rawal

Zhaojun Wang

Farah Al-Atrash

Proceedings 16th Indoor Air 2020

16th Conference of the International Society of Indoor Air Quality & Climate International Conference on Indoor Air Quality and Climate, 2020
Seoul, South Korea,




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