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Market Observation May 2023

Topic: Temperature and Relative Humidity (Thermal Comfort)

From January to May, indoor air temperature in office environments has been consistently increasing, indicating the transition from winter to spring/summer. On the other hand, the relative humidity exhibits a distinct (nonlinear) rising pattern, with a notable sharp increase at the beginning of May, which can have implications for thermal comfort and employee productivity.

1. Physical Factors Driving the Indoor Temperature and Humidity Dynamics

The steady rise in indoor air temperature from January to May can be attributed to various physical drivers. As the seasons change, the transition from winter to spring/summer brings about increased sunlight intensity, longer daylight hours, and higher outdoor temperatures. These external factors can contribute to the rising indoor temperature as heat is transmitted through windows, walls, and other surfaces. Additionally, the adjustment of indoor heating systems during the season transition reduces the need for artificial heating and allows indoor temperature rise naturally.

The nonlinear rising pattern of relative humidity, particularly in the beginning of May, suggests different factors influencing moisture levels indoors. One possible driver is the changing outdoor conditions. As spring progresses, the atmosphere tends to become more humid, especially in regions with higher precipitation rates or proximity to bodies of water. Increased outdoor humidity can infiltrate the indoor environment through air leakage or ventilation systems, raising relative humidity levels indoors, especially if the office has limited humidity control or inadequate ventilation.

2. The Implications for Thermal Comfort and Employees’ Productivity

The observed patterns in temperature and relative humidity have implications for thermal comfort and employee productivity. As the temperature steadily rises, there is a potential for discomfort among employees if the indoor climate is not properly regulated. High temperatures can lead to increased perspiration, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating, negatively impacting productivity.

On the other hand, the nonlinear rise in relative humidity, particularly in May, can create a muggy and sticky indoor environment, which can contribute to feelings of discomfort and may hinder employee productivity.

To ensure optimal thermal comfort and productivity, it is essential for the office environment to have effective temperature and humidity control measures in place. This can include proper insulation to minimize heat gain, appropriate shading to reduce solar radiation, and well-maintained ventilation systems to manage humidity levels. Regular monitoring and adjustments of these parameters based on seasonal changes can help create a comfortable and conducive working environment for employees.

Written by Dr. Erfan Haghighi, Head of R&PD


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