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.
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.