What combinations of environmental factors make people comfortable and satisfied in homes and offices?

The basis for the research theme

Being comfortable in our indoor environments is not a trivial matter–it affects our physical and psychological health and well-being and day-to-day functioning. Comfort is dependent upon our surroundings and the conditions of the indoor environment. Physical comfort includes environmental conditions such as sound, lighting, view, air quality, ventilation, temperature, furniture, ergonomics and layout, and location. Functional comfort includes a person’s ability to operate efficiently within the space, whether that is performing a task or relaxing. This includes limiting distractions and being able to concentrate, but it also means being accessible to others socially or for collaborative work. Psychological comfort includes a sense of safety, a sense of belonging, contentment and ability to control the ambience. Collectively, comfort affects our mood, emotions, privacy and satisfaction with surroundings.

Comfort impacts performance, productivity, creativity and our ability to form and maintain positive health habits. The Well Living Lab is able to conduct studies in a controlled real-world setting where exposure to environmental conditions can be examined over weeks and months compared to traditional chamber studies.

Desired outcomes from our studies

Because comfort is a multidimensional experience, the Well Living Lab is researching combinations of elements such as thermal conditions, lighting and acoustics to understand how they can work together to benefit people’s health, well-being and satisfaction with indoor environments. These findings can inform how we design buildings to respond to peoples’ physiological and psychological needs.

Well Living Lab research studies

  • Acoustic, lighting and thermal conditions in offices and their effects on the health and wellness of adult office workers (ALTCO)
  • Environmental conditions and occupant satisfaction in the workplace: a controlled study in a living lab
  • Impact of daylight and view on performance and productivity
  • Impact of blue-enriched white light on performance and sleep quality
  • Impact of dynamic LED lighting on the well-being and experience of office occupants
  • Sleep quality and microclimates
  • Indoor air quality in subways/skyways
  • Biophilic office design
  • Evaluation of the feasibility of using sensor data-streams and salivary cortisol measurements for the detection of high and low levels of mental stress
  • Aroma dispersion pilot
  • Evaluation of Well Living Lab research capabilities for conducting scent-related research