Improving thermal comfort in non-air-conditioned buildings

Working comfortably in summer heat

Many existing office and administrative buildings are not air conditioned. This makes it all the more difficult to concentrate on work with increasing temperatures. Scientists have therefore analysed which measures can be used to improve user satisfaction. The BINE-Projektinfo brochure "Keeping a cool head in the summer heat" (04/2016) presents investigations and models to assess the thermal comfort.

The personal perception of users affects the assessment of thermal comfort. This can vary depending on the season. For example, higher room temperatures are tolerated in summer than in winter. It was found in tests that the test persons are more satisfied with the thermal comfort when they can influence the indoor environment themselves, for example by opening windows or individually operating the solar shading or ceiling fans. The scientists conducted field investigations in six office buildings in Karlsruhe and Stuttgart. In addition, experimental series were conducted on various test rigs.

As a result of their investigations, the researchers combined two standard comfort models – the PMV (Predictive Mean Vote) and adaptive models – to form the so-called adaptive balance model (ATHB). In addition to standard factors such as the air temperature, air velocity and floating average value of the outside temperature, this now makes it possible to take psychological or building-related factors into account (for example, the type of air-conditioning). Comfort models serve to objectively evaluate and model the degree of thermal comfort in buildings. They also form part of standards.

The "Passive cooling” project is being jointly carried by scientists at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the University of Wuppertal.


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(4 pages, pdf, 789 kB)

Downloadable pictures

Note: All downloadable pictures may only be used for coverage relating to this research project.

BINE-Projektinfo "Keeping a cool head in the summer heat" (04/2016)

(300 dpi, tiff, 3,8 MB)

Einige Versuche zum Projekt „Passiv Kühl“ wurden im Teststand LOBSTER an der Universität Wuppertal durchgeführt. Auf dem drehbaren Teststand können verschiedene Gebäudeorientierungen simuliert werden. Quelle: BINE Informationsdienst, Johannes Lang

Image 1
Several experiments within the "Passive cooling" project have been conducted in the LOBSTER test stand at the University of Wuppertal. Different building orientations can be simulated on the rotary test stand (© Johannes Lang, BINE Informationsdienst).

Versuche im Teststand LOBSTER zeigten, dass die Bewertung des thermischen Komforts umso schlechter wurde, je mehr Personen im Raum waren. (© BINE Informationsdienst, Johannes Lang).

Image 2
In the LOBSTER test stand, experiments showed that the evaluation of thermal comfort deteriorated with a rising number of persons in the room (© Johannes Lang, BINE Informationsdienst).