The ambivalence of personal control over indoor climate - how much personal control is adequate?

Runa T. Hellwig, Marcel Schweiker, Atze Boerstra

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/conference proceedingArticle in proceedingResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
80 Downloads (Pure)


Literature sets personal control over indoor environmental conditions in relation to the gap between predicted and actual energy use, the gap between predicted and observed user satisfaction, and health aspects. A focus on building energy performance often leads to the proposal of more automated and less occupant control of the indoor environment. However, a high degree of personal control is desirable because research shows that a low degree (or no) personal control highly correlates with indoor environmental dissatisfaction and sick building syndrome symptoms. These two tendencies seem contradictory and optimisation almost impossible. Based on current efficiency classes describing the effect of room automation systems on building energy use during operation, fundamental thoughts related to thermophysiology and control, recent laboratory experiments, important lessons learnt from post-occupancy studies, and documented conceptual frameworks on the level of control perceived, we discuss the ambivalence of personal control and how much personal control is adequate. Often-proposed solutions ranging from fully automated controls, over manual controls to dummy controls are discussed according to their effect on a) building energy use during operation and b) occupants perceived control. The discussion points to the importance of adequate personal control. In order to meet the goals for nearly zero energy buildings and for a human-centric design, there is the need to establish design procedures for adequate personal control as part of the design process.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication12th Nordic Symposium on Building Physics (NSB 2020)
EditorsJ. Kurnitski, T. Kalamees
Number of pages8
PublisherEDP Sciences
Publication date30 Jun 2020
Article number06010
ChapterIndoor climate
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2020
Event12th Nordic Symposium on Building Physics - Tallinn, Estonia
Duration: 6 Sep 20209 Sep 2020
Conference number: 5010068


Conference12th Nordic Symposium on Building Physics
Internet address
SeriesE3S Web of Conferences


  • Perceived control
  • human building interaction
  • user behaviour
  • Personal control
  • building services design
  • human-centric design
  • automation
  • Building Energy Use
  • health
  • indoor environment
  • Indoor Climate
  • Integrated Design


Dive into the research topics of 'The ambivalence of personal control over indoor climate - how much personal control is adequate?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this