A framework for adopting adaptive thermal comfort principles in design and operation of buildings

Runa T. Hellwig, Despoina Teli, Marcel Schweiker, Joon-Ho Choi, Jeffrey M.C. Lee, Rodrigo Mora, Rajan Rawal, Zhaojun Wang, Farah Al-Atrash

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


The concept of adaptive thermal comfort was formulated many decades ago and has been validated in numerous field studies. As a result, wider acceptable indoor temperature ranges based on adaptive models have been included in international and national standards and the adaptive approach to thermal comfort is regarded as a significant contributor in achieving low energy building design and operation.Despite the ever-increasing scientific literature on adaptive comfort around the world, the overall understanding of how to translate the adaptive principles into design practice and concepts for operating buildings is still limited, which suggests a gap between the scientific outcomes and the real-world applications. This discussion paper identifies the challenges and gaps in using the principles of adaptive thermalcomfort by design practitioners and discusses them in light of relevant research findings. More than 100literature sources were reviewed in support of the discussion. The paper then proposes a frameworkthat aims to facilitate the adoption of adaptive comfort principles in design and operation of buildings and describes the outline of an imminent guideline for low energy building design based on the concept of adaptive thermal comfort.
Original languageEnglish
Article number109476
JournalEnergy and Buildings
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2019


  • Adaptive thermal comfort
  • Building energy efficiency
  • Climate context
  • Integrated Design
  • Personal control
  • Sufficiency
  • affordances


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