The adaptive approach to thermal comfort: A critical overview

Edward Halawa, J van Hoof

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The adaptive approach to thermal comfort has gained unprecedented exposure and rising status recently among the thermal comfort community at the apparent expense of the heat balance approach for the evaluation of naturally ventilated buildings. The main appeal of this adaptive approach lies in its simplicity whereby the comfort temperature is expressed as a function of the outdoor air temperature only. The main responsibility for attaining thermal comfort is given to the individual, who is supposed to have some degree of control over the personal thermal environment. The adjustment of expectation enables a wider comfort temperature range in which occupants feel comfortable. Arguments in favor of the adaptive approach have been based on the results from a large number of field studies conducted across the globe involving the occupants of various types of buildings. It is not surprising, therefore, to watch proliferation of papers on the adaptive approach in the scientific domain and the incorporation of adaptive findings into standards and guidelines. However, there are a number of issues in the advancement of this approach, which have had little exposure in the literature. This paper looks critically at the foundation and underlying assumptions of the adaptive model approach and its findings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-110
Number of pages10
JournalEnergy and Buildings
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


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