Occupant comfort refers to the level of satisfaction and well-being experienced by the people occupying a building, such as a home, office, or commercial space.
- The provision of a safe and comfortable indoor environment is one of the principal demands required to be met by buildings.
- Defined by the parameters of thermal, acoustic, and visual comfort as well as the quality of air in interior spaces, the indoor environment is a critical factor to be taken into consideration for the well-being and productivity of building occupants.
- Natural lighting is an essential factor to consider in the design of interior spaces. Both too little and too much light have the potential to cause discomfort.
- Sharp contrast, perceived as glare, can cause visual stress while well-lit workspaces have been shown to increase attentiveness, improve sleep patterns, and lower the risk of depression.
- Optimal design for daylight also generates enormous energy savings by avoiding redundant use of artificial lighting – simulations may be used to arrive at specific requirements in terms of the number and nature of artificial lights required.
- Part of the intent of this section is to ensure efficiency and visual comfort with utilization of both natural and artificial light.
- Thermal comfort is a cumulative effect resulting from a series of environmental and personal factors including air temperature and velocity, radiant temperature, relative humidity, metabolic rate, etc. Working in optimal conditions enables us to think and function better.
- Thermal comfort contributes to an overall well-being and productivity.
- Part of the intent of this section is to encourage consideration of thermal conditions – designs should provide comfort based on energy-efficient features, such as natural ventilation, solar shading, and intelligent building design.
- A third major parameter for occupant comfort involves noise.
- Constant exposure to unwanted noise in indoor spaces has shown a wide range of negative health effects including cardiovascular and psychosomatic illness, high blood pressure, insomnia, headaches, and general malaise. This section intends to address the issue of acoustic discomfort through implementation of measures to reduce ambient noise levels and penetration of unwanted sound.
- Indoor air quality refers to the quality of air within buildings, especially in relation to the health and comfort of the building occupants.
- The WHO estimates that close to 4 million people die every year because of indoor air pollution.
- The quality of indoor air can be two to five times (and even up to 100 times) more polluted than the outside air owing to the accumulation of smoke, carbon dioxide, or emissions from cleaning products, paint, and adhesives.
Note – WHO. 2014. ‘Household (Indoor) Air Pollution.’ Details available at https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/householdair-pollution-and-health; last accessed on November 26, 2019.
- In conditioned buildings that are tightly sealed, these elements tend to circulate and cause respiratory concerns that are difficult to pinpoint and treat. It is imperative that these issues are addressed through regulation of substances used, monitoring of indoor air, and measures to check the ingress of additional pollutants.
- The overall intent of this section is to encourage the implementation of measures that will ensure optimal performance in the four key areas that influence indoor comfort and environment quality – thermal, visual, and acoustic comfort, and the indoor air quality.
- This section consists of three criteria as mentioned in Table ( Given below ).
By taking these factors into account, building designers and architects can create environments that promote occupant comfort and well-being.