Impacts of demographic, contextual and interaction effects on thermal sensation—Evidence from a global database

Zhang F and de Dear R , Building and Environment ,162(2019)

Previous studies have demonstrated that non-thermal factors may affect occupants' thermal response in the indoor environment. The effects of demographic and contextual factors on thermal perception have been extensively studied, yet in previous studies, confounding variables have not been commonly controlled; it is also not known how these factors interact with each other. The current study leverages on the largest global thermal comfort database to date and explores the impacts of available demographic and contextual factors, including gender, ventilation mode, building typology, season and climate, on occupants' thermal sensation, along with their two-way and three-way interaction effects. Results indicate that all tested demographic and contextual factors except ventilation mode significantly affect occupants' thermal sensation. Under the same indoor environmental and outdoor climatic conditions, males perceive the environment as being significantly warmer than females in all contexts; males' thermal sensitivity is also consistently lower than females'. Thermal sensations in multifamily housing are significantly lower and closer to neutral than in office buildings under the same exposure conditions, yet it is likely to be the combined effects of building typology and ventilation mode. All else being equal, occupants in office buildings have less seasonal variation in thermal sensation than classrooms and multifamily housing. Residents in a warmer climate deem the same indoor thermal environment significantly cooler than residents in a cooler climate; this climatic adaptation is more pronounced in females than in males. Occupants’ sensitivity to indoor air temperature, humidity and air movement significantly vary between different ventilation modes under different seasons.

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