Thermal Comfort Models and Standards to Support Building Environmental Design Limitations and Research Challenges and Opportunities

Speaker: Rodrigo Mora, PhD, P.Eng.,LEED AP, Building Science Department, British Columbia Institute of Technology

Location: Policy Labs, CIRS building, 2260 West Mall

Date: Wednesday, November 25th 2-3 PM


A wealth of scientific research and practical design considerations have led the evolution of international thermal comfort standards over the past 50 years to better support building environmental design decisions. The requirements in those standards are typically based on thermal comfort models and practical design considerations. However, on the one hand, the need for those models and standards is often questioned under the argument that judicious mechanical designs by experienced engineers would typically result in thermally comfortable environments. On the other hand, building professionals and researchers, unaware of underlying assumptions and limitations, often tend to overuse and misuse thermal comfort models. This talk will first discuss the insights gained from using thermal comfort models and standards to better support building environmental design. It will emphasize on the main assumptions and limitations underlying thermal comfort models and standards, and uncover existing gaps in supporting thermal comfort design and performance verification. Finally it will review current promising research to improve the applicability of these standards, and discuss research challenges and opportunities to make these more relevant to support a wider variety of building environmental design conditions under the context of climate change.




Throughout his professional and academic career Rodrigo’s work has focused on investigating methods to improve the integration of building systems to optimize performance. His current research leverages on the inherently integrative principles of building physics and systems engineering to support the design of sustainable buildings. His main research area of interest is Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) and Climate. He is investigating climate and occupant responsive indoor climate systems and technologies that deliver healthy and comfortable indoor environments, in harmony with the surrounding environment. Central to this problem is the understanding of the physics of heat, air, and moisture transport and contaminant emission and dispersal in buildings; and how these affect occupants.