Adaptive visual and thermal comfort

Increasing efforts are devoted to enhance and optimize the environmental comfort in buildings, as this aspect plays a major role in the affection of health, performance and general well-being of people. Indoor air quality, acoustic ambience, light and thermal conditions have been proved to be fundamental factors for the indoor environmental quality. Engineers must be aware of the effects of the interactions between these factors on the indoor comfort as people react simultaneously to diverse stimuli belonging to different sensorial fields and adapting their behaviors according to the associated conditions. Being able to know how these interactions influence the users’ comfort can lead to marked energy savings and positive influence on users’ productivity. Many studies have been conducted on the influence of each component on the overall comfort, but only few studies are available investigating the interaction between different comfort variables of different disciplines. This research focuses on the interaction between visual and thermal comfort for building users in school environments, looking at the impact of different perceptive conditions on the productivity of the users and overall comfort. In particular, it analyzes the effect of visual variables on the perceived thermal comfort and of thermal variables on the perceived visual comfort, beside the mutual interaction of visual and thermal variables on the overall comfort appraisal. The study is based on fundamental concepts belonging to different branches of knowledge, ranging from engineering to psychology and physiology for the considered purpose. These disciplines come together in search for objective interactions between different comforts by means of experiments in realistic climate chamber or controlled field studies. The goal of this study is to propose new guidelines for informing building designers on the interaction between visual and thermal variables and their influence on human comfort and productivity in the built environment. The results of this study will ultimately foster the development of control systems with the aim to achieve energy savings, increase user satisfaction as well as boost productivity.


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