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

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, nonsmokers, 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.