KJ Tait

Adaptive Thermal Comfort Explained

2 July 2024

The concept of adaptive thermal comfort is central to understanding how individuals respond to the thermal environment in buildings.  This approach recognises that people can adapt to a wide range of indoor temperatures and environmental conditions.  It considers the variability in comfort responses between individuals and the role of behaviour in regulating thermal comfort. 


The human body has natural physiological mechanisms to regulate internal temperature, such as increasing heat loss through increased blood flow to the skin or shivering to increase metabolic heat production.  


In addition to physiological responses, humans also use behaviour as part of thermal regulation.  This can include actions such as opening windows or adjusting clothing to maintain comfort.  The availability of "adaptive opportunities" within a building, such as the ability to control ventilation and shading, can impact occupants' ability to maintain comfort. 


Understanding adaptive thermal comfort is essential for predicting and addressing the likelihood of overheating in buildings.  By considering the complex relationship between occupants and their environment, designers and building professionals can develop strategies to create comfortable indoor spaces that minimise the risk of discomfort due to overheating. 


At KJ Tait, we are experts in dynamic simulation modelling and use the adaptive modelling frameworks in CIBSE Guides TM52 and TM59.  We reduce this risk of buildings overheating by collaborating with the architectural team to design facades that help to reduce the risk by passive means.  Our modellers use current day and future weather conditions within these models to ensure longevity of design.