A comparative study of gender differences in thermal comfort and environmental satisfaction in air-conditioned offices in Qatar, India, and Japan

Elsevier, Building and Environment, Volume 206, December 2021
Indraganti M., Humphreys M.A.

Gender differences in the assessment of thermal comfort and indoor environmental quality (IEQ) in the Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC) have not previously been investigated, despite the prevalence of the overcooling of indoor spaces. This study investigated the effect of sex, age and body mass index on subjective thermal comfort perceptions, comfort temperature and IEQ satisfaction in offices using our thermal comfort surveys in Qatar, India, and Japan. Data from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) databases were used for comparison. We found that females were twice as likely to feel dissatisfied with thermal sensation than males in Doha. Overall, females felt colder than men, and were less satisfied with all IEQ parameters. In Doha, females, younger subjects, and high-BMI subjects had lower comfort temperatures than their counterparts. Increased indoor air speeds and the provision of personal environmental controls could effectively reduce female dissatisfaction and save energy in Qatar. Women's more stringent thermal comfort preferences could be used to evaluate occupant control provisions and IEQ standards. A robust IEQ complaint redressal system may also be required in offices. This study highlights the need to consider female perspectives and thermal expectations in the environmental design of workplaces as well, not merely privacy concerns.