Richard de Dear

Richard de Dear
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Room 715, Knowles Building, The University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
Comfort Is In The Mind Of The Beholder
Professor Richard de Dear
Professor, Faculty of Architecture,
Design and Planning, University of Sydney, Australia


Since the invention of air conditioning early in the 20th Century we’ve witnessed a gradual tightening of temperature control within built environments, facilitated by progressive advances in HVAC technology.  We now rate buildings on how successfully spatial and temporal thermal variations have been eradicated, all based on the assumption that building occupants want isothermal, homogenous and static indoor climates. Thermal comfort standards literally “downgrade” buildings that are unable to maintain their occupants’ thermal sensation close to “neutral” everywhere and all the time.  Performance demerit points in the form of PPD ratings are applied if temperature fluctuates across the floor-plate, or there is any form of localised thermal sensory stimulation. Thermal asymmetries in the horizontal or vertical planes are penalised, as are temperature swings, cycles, ramps and drifts.  So where does this notion – that isothermal, static and neutral thermal environments represent the optimum indoor climate – actually come from?  This lecture critically reviews the thermal comfort literature and explores the evidence for something better than “neutral” – thermal pleasure and even thermal delight. The physiologists’ concept of alliesthesia is used to understand thermal delight in architecture, as eulogised in Lisa Heschong’s classic book of the same name.

Prof. Richard de Dear’s Short-bio:

Over the last 38 years, Prof Richard de Dear has focused his research effort on quantifying what occupants want from their built environments – Indoor Environmental Quality. He is currently the most highly cited living researcher in the domain of thermal comfort, with over 250 peer-reviewed papers plus several monographs on the subject. Within that body of research it is his adaptive model of thermal comfort that has had the greatest impact, not just on the research community but also on actual buildings. De Dear’s adaptive model underpins the American Society of Heating and the Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers’ thermal comfort standard, ASHRAE 55-2004, 2010, 2013, which in turn, informs several national thermal comfort standards around the world.

Prof de Dear has held positions at the Technical University of Denmark, National University of Singapore, Macquarie University, and since 2009, The University of Sydney where he is the inaugural Director of the Indoor Environmental Quality Lab within the School of Architecture, Design and Planning. De Dear is also currently serving as an associate editor for Elsevier’sEnergy and Buildings, and ASHRAE’s archival research journal, Science and Technology for the Built Environment. Previously he was an editor for the International Journal ofBiometeoologyClimate Research, and Indoor Air.

Online Registration:

* The lecture is open to all HKU academic staff and students.