Interaction between Thermal Comfort, Indoor Air Quality and Ventilation Energy Consumption of Educational Buildings: A Comprehensive Review

Lin-Rui JIA, Jie HAN*, Xi CHEN, Qing-yun LI, Chi-Chung LEE, Yat-Hei FUNG

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


Thermal comfort and indoor air quality (IAQ) of educational buildings can affect students’ academic performance and well-being and are closely related to ventilation energy consumption. Demands of the indoor environmental quality within the classroom generally vary with the education levels and result in ventilation energy consumption accounting for a considerable proportion of the total energy use in bulk educational buildings. Its huge energy-saving potential is attracting worldwide attention from scholars and governments. Therefore, appropriate operation strategies of ventilation systems should be adopted to effectively reduce energy consumption without sacrificing thermal comfort and IAQ. However, the absence of relevant standards and guidelines for designing a quality classroom environment considering the special features of educational buildings remains an important research question. This study conducts a comprehensive review to determine research gaps and identify future directions for the interaction between thermal comfort, IAQ and ventilation energy consumption for educational buildings. The review results show that: (1) The thermal comfort prediction model should consider the influences of genders, ages and socioeconomic backgrounds; (2) The mixed-mode ventilation coupling the natural and mechanical approaches is preferred given its advantage of lower energy consumption and improved thermal comfort, but its control strategies need further exploration; (3) Optimizing passive design parameters of buildings (e.g., window to wall ratios, window orientations and sun shading installations) can significantly reduce the ventilation demands while maintaining indoor thermal comfort; (4) More studies are required for investigating thermal comfort in educational buildings during the heating period; and (5) IAQ of university buildings clearly requires further studies, especially on bacterial and fungal aerosol pollutants, for a more comprehensive assessment of the built environment.
Original languageEnglish
Article number591
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 28 Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was financially supported by Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China (UGC/FDS16/P01/20) and Hong Kong Metropolitan University Research Grant (No. 2020/1.3).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • thermal comfort
  • indoor air quality
  • ventilation energy consumption
  • educational buildings
  • Thermal comfort
  • Educational buildings
  • Ventilation energy consumption
  • Indoor air quality


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