- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 27 Apr 2017
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.
There are also indications that cardiovascular parameters may be positively affected by regular exposure to heat and cold.
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
- Cold stress.
- Comfort in low energy buildings.
- Evolving opportunities for providing thermal comfort.
- Heat stress.
- 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
The complex situation where events occur at the same time.
How can Latin America and the Caribbean unlock the digital potential of their new and existing built environment?
CIOB publish a new code of estimating practice.
These relate to a programme where each activity is allocated a price and interim payments made against completion.
Police testing finds that flat door could only withstand fire for half its designed time.
Have a look at these images from a new photography book of buildings being reclaimed by nature.
What does the phrase 'demised premises' mean? Find out here in our introductory article.
New good practice guidance looks at the best way to deliver multi-functional solar car parks.
Philip Hammond suggests the public finances have reached a turning point.
The fifth annual ICE-Topcon lecture looked at how to balance smart technology and security.
Support grows for the Construction (Retention Deposit Schemes) Bill.