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Environmental and human factors influencing thermal comfort of office occupants in hot - humid and hot - arid climates

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The effects of environmental and individual factors on thermal sensation in air-conditioned office environments were analysed for two large, fully compatible thermal comfort field studies in contrasting Australian climates. In the hot - humid location of Townsville, 836 office workers were surveyed; 935 workers participated in hot - arid Kalgoorlie-Boulder. Overall perceived work area temperature and measured indoor operative temperature correlated moderately with thermal sensation for Townsville (T) subjects but only perceived temperature correlated with Kalgoorlie-Boulder (KB) sensation. Multiple regression analyses confirmed that indoor climatic variables (including Predicted Mean Vote) contributed to actual thermal sensation vote (24% T; 15% KB), with operative temperature having more of an effect in T than in KB. Subsequent analyses of individual characteristics showed no linear contributions to thermal sensation. The remaining variances were significantly related to perceived work area temperature (7% additional explained variance in T; 12% in KB). Mann - Whitney analyses (after correction for climatic variables) showed that T subjects with higher job satisfaction had thermal sensations closer to 'neutral'. Males, healthier subjects, non-smokers, respondents with earlier survey times and underweight occupants had lower median thermal sensations in KB. Townsville occupants appeared more adapted to their outdoor climatic conditions than Kalgoorlie-Boulder respondents, perhaps due to limited home air-conditioning. Further research into non-thermal impacts on gender-related thermal acceptability is suggested.
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Keywords: Hot-arid; Hot-humid; Human factors; Office occupants; Thermal comfort

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 15, 2003

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