Framing Holistic Indoor Environment: Definitions of Comfort, Health, and Well-being

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In research and assessment of indoor environmental quality (IEQ), the terms ‘Comfort’, ‘Health’ and ‘Well-being’ are often used interchangeably without a clear definition of terms or effects on conditions for occupants. This calls for a systematic restructuring of the ontological approach to IEQ and, based on a meta-analysis of recent IEQ literature, the authors suggest three substantial contributions: 1) A framework consisting of comfort, health and well-being as three equal branches of IEQ to increase focus on previously neglected aspects and make inter-domain relations more transparent. 2) The identification of
key IEQ trends and by extension suggestions for formal definitions of three main domains as part of a multidisciplinary conceptual framework for working holistically with IEQ. 3) The introduction of positive stimuli to IEQ assessment as opposed to the predominance of focus on the absence of negative parameters
of current practice. Through including this positive stimuli dimension, the field of IEQ shifts from ‘not bad’ to ‘truly good’, encouraging the design of enriched environments to further positive experiences improving occupant well-being.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberBAE-D-18-02191
JournalIndoor and Built Environment
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)1118-1136
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020


  • Indoor environmental quality
  • Occupant well-being
  • Mental health
  • Positive stimuli
  • Taxonomy
  • Review


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