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Long-term perceptions of outdoor thermal environments in an elementary school in a hot-humid climate

Abstract

Previous studies on thermal comfort in school environments have focused more on indoor thermal environments than outdoor ones, thus providing a limited understanding of occupants’ long-term thermal perceptions. Taiwan is located in a subtropical region, where it can be stiflingly hot outside in summer. This highlights the need to ensure proper thermal comfort on campus. In the present study, thermal environment parameters were measured and collected in several outdoor spaces of an elementary school in southern Taiwan. In addition, a questionnaire was used to explore occupants’ long-term thermal perceptions of these spaces. During summer months, the physiological equivalent temperature (PET) of these outdoor spaces in over 60% of the daytime in summer between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. was higher than 38 °C PET, indicating high heat stress. The results of occupants’ long-term perceptions of the thermal comfort of these spaces suggested that dissatisfaction with thermal comfort was associated more with solar radiation than with wind speed. Finally, this study simulated a campus environment where more trees are planted and compared the thermal comfort indices before and after the simulation. The results indicated that this solution contributed to a decrease in the PET of these environments, thereby alleviating high heat stress. This study can inform the improvement of microclimates and thermal comfort during campus layout planning. Planting trees judiciously across a campus increases outdoor shades and creates outdoor spaces that are more comfortable and adaptable to hot weather conditions, thereby ensuring frequent use of these spaces.

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Acknowledgements

Funding for this research was provided by the National Science Council of Taiwan in grant under project number MOST 103-2633-B-006-004 and is sincerely acknowledged.

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Correspondence to Tzu-Ping Lin.

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Shih, WM., Lin, TP., Tan, NX. et al. Long-term perceptions of outdoor thermal environments in an elementary school in a hot-humid climate. Int J Biometeorol 61, 1657–1666 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00484-017-1345-x

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00484-017-1345-x

Keywords

  • Thermal comfort
  • PET
  • Sky view factor
  • Long-term thermal perceptions