- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
- Specialist wikis
Last edited 08 Jan 2021
Healthy excursions outside the thermal comfort zone
On 25 April 2017, Building Research & Information (BRI) published; Healthy excursions outside the thermal comfort zone, by Wouter van Marken Lichtenbelt, Mark Hanssen, Hannah Pallubinsky, Boris Kingma and Lisje Schellen.
Exposure to mildly cold or warm environments, outside the standard comfort zone inside buildings (typically around 21 - 22°C) increases metabolism and energy expenditure which can help to tackle obesity. For those with type 2 diabetes, exposure to mild coldness influences glucose metabolism and after 10 days of intermittent cold, this increased insulin sensitivity (and so glucose handling) by more than 40%. This is comparable with the best pharmaceutical solutions available.
The authors of the study have advocated therefore that buildings such as homes and offices should adopt drifting temperatures to create a a more healthy environment. A reduction in heating and cooling could also contribute to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
This does not mean we need to suffer from discomfort to become healthy. Prolonged excursions outside the thermal comfort zone result in acclimatisation, and low or high temperatures in dynamic thermal environments can be perceived as acceptable or even pleasant (described as 'thermal alliesthesia' – ie cold stimuli will be perceived as pleasant by someone who is warm, whilst warm stimuli will be experienced as pleasant by someone who is cold).
Lead author, Professor of Ecological Energetics and Health at Maastricht University Wouter van Marken Lichtenbelt said; “It has previously been assumed that stable fixed indoor temperatures would satisfy comfort and health in most people. However, this research indicates that mild cold and variable temperatures may have a positive effect on our health and at the same time are acceptable or even may create pleasure.”
Richard Lorch, BRI editor in chief, said; "This ground-breaking research provides a new approach to how we think about the heating and cooling our of buildings. The health benefits from a short exposure to a more varied temperature range will redefine our expectations on thermal comfort. In turn, this will change our practices for heating and cooling our buildings."
Healthy excursions outside the thermal comfort zone; van Marken Lichtenbelt, Wouter; Hanssen, Mark; Pallubinsky, Hannah; Kingma, Boris; Schellen, Lisje. Building Research & Information, 2017/04/25. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09613218.2017.1307647
--Building Research & Information 10:34, 27 Apr 2017 (BST)
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- BREEAM Thermal comfort.
- Cold stress.
- Comfort in low energy buildings.
- Evolving opportunities for providing thermal comfort.
- Heat stress.
- Maximum and minimum workplace temperatures.
- Operative temperature.
- Overheating - assessment protocol.
- Preventing overheating.
- The building as climate modifier.
- Thermal comfort.
- Thermal indices.
- Thermal pleasure in built environments: physiology of alliesthesia.
Featured articles and news
Dealing with draughts and reducing heat loss.
Managing Partner at Onyx and third gen project manager.
Expectation types, management and performance gaps.
Appointments, re-appointments and six changes a year.
New ways to manage the housing crisis.
Consortium seeks signatories for open letter by February 29.
Meaning, understanding and implementation.
Kick-start attempts causes 50% jump from December.
From climate to cost to cold bridges and design flexibility.
In a changing world at the APM PM SIG conference.
The glass product that opened up new possibilities.
Campaigning for buildings of all periods.
Full life cycle assessments, impact categories and more.
Get to know the new requirements and the new terms.
Reporting on Payment Practices and Performance Regs.
The ultimate companion for building services excellence.