Highlands Sports Complex WELL


Thermal Comfort Concept Intent

The WELL Thermal Comfort concept aims to promote human productivity and ensure a maximum level of thermal comfort among all building users through improved HVAC system design and control and by meeting individual thermal preferences.

T01: Thermal Performance

Focus: to ensure that the majority of building users find the thermal environment acceptable.

Why it's Important:

The indoor thermal environment is ranked as one of the strongest contributing factors to overall human satisfaction in the built environment.  The thermal environment impacts human health, comfort and productivity.  Due to its linkages to integumentary, endocrine and respiratory body systems, thermal comfort can cause a variety of detrimental health outcomes. For example, cold and dry spaces are known to facilitate the spread of the influenza virus because low humidity levels allow the virus to persist longer in the air, while low air temperature extends the virus shedding period. On the other hand, overly warm indoor spaces are linked to increases in sick building syndrome symptoms, irregular heart rate, respiratory issues, fatigue and negative mood.  Warm and humid indoor spaces are also associated with mold and fungal growth. Controlling the thermal environment substantially impacts a building’s energy footprint, as in many countries heating and cooling account for approximately half of a building’s energy consumption. Furthermore, thermal conditions play a large role in the way we experience the indoor environment.

What It Means:

During 98% of the standard occupied hours of the year, 95% of regularly occupied spaces achieve thermal conditions representing Predicted Mean Vote (PMV) levels within +/- 0.5; PPD ≤ 10% as per ASHRAE 55-2013, ISO 7730: 2005 or EN 15251:2007. Historical outdoor weather conditions under which PMV and PPD levels would not be achieved, including historical weather data demonstrating that they are not expected to occur more than 2% of standard occupied hours per year.  During all standard occupied hours of the year, all regularly occupied spaces achieve thermal conditions representing Predicted Mean Vote (PMV) levels within +/- 0.7; PPD ≤ 15%. In other words, our occupants’ comfort is not only taken into account, they also are asked about their comfort. Our engineering construction team submitted assumptions of clothing insulation and metabolic rate used in design calculations. In our kitchen, the operative temperature never exceeds 80 degrees Fahrenheit or 27 degrees Celsius.


The Highlands conducts ongoing monitoring according to the following requirements. The dry-bulb temperature, relative humidity, and mean radiant temperature are monitored in regularly occupied spaces within the building at intervals no less than twice a year (once in winter and once in summer season), and results are annually submitted through WELL Online. 

T02: Enhanced Thermal Performance

Focus: to enhance thermal comfort and promote human productivity by ensuring that a substantial majority of building users (above 80%) perceive their environment as thermally acceptable

Why it's Important:

Building users who are satisfied with their thermal environment have been shown to be more productive in the workplace, while thermal discomfort is associated with sick building syndrome symptoms and other conditions that lead to a decrease in productivity. Unfavorable levels of heat, humidity and ventilation are associated with symptoms of itchy eyes, headache and throat irritation in building users. Studies have also shown that only 11% of office buildings surveyed in the U.S. provide thermal environments that meet generally accepted goals of human satisfaction. Similarly, as many as 41% of office workers have expressed dissatisfaction with the thermal environment.  The impact of increasing the number of people satisfied with their thermal environment is substantial, as it extends beyond comfort and is linked to improved health, well-being and productivity. WELL encourages projects to go beyond the minimum requirements of the standards for thermal comfort listed in Feature T01: Thermal Performance.

How We Know:

Highlands Sports Complex surveys all of its regular building occupants, including all full time and part time employees on their comfort levels in the building.


From our first preapproved survey, 77% of surveys received respondent data. Of those respondents, 90% met the satisfaction threshold outlined on the survey. This survey will be given twice a year anonymously; once in the winter and once in the summer.

T04: Individual Thermal Control

Focus: to maximize and personalize thermal comfort among all individuals.

Why it's Important:

The current standards that govern thermal comfort in buildings aim to provide a thermal environment where at minimum 80% of people will perceive the thermal environment as acceptable. Thermal comfort preferences are highly individual, meaning that not everyone will be equally comfortable under the same environmental conditions. Besides the six primary factors of thermal comfort, many secondary factors may at least subtly influence thermal comfort. Age, sex, health condition, personal thermal adaptation and thermal history, including climatological origin, are considered as major secondary factors. Factors such as temperament, preferences, social and cultural norms and seasonal variation also play an important role in determining individual thermal comfort. These factors make it nearly impossible to find indoor thermal comfort conditions that will satisfy all people in the same space at the same time.  The design of the thermal environment can allow people to easily make system adjustments and therefore maximize their thermal comfort. WELL encourages projects to adopt a holistic approach to thermal comfort that results in the provision of acceptable thermal environment for all people in buildings.

What We Provide:

Highlands Sports Complex provides All occupants have access upon request to blankets. Used blankets are washed at minimum on a weekly basis and a flexible dress code policy allows for individual thermal preferences.

T06: Thermal Comfort Monitoring

Focus: to monitor and effectively address unacceptable thermal comfort conditions and inform building managers and users of the thermal comfort parameters, of their indoor environment.

Why it's Important:

Unfavorable levels of heat, humidity and ventilation are associated with people’s experience of itchy eyes, headache and throat irritation. Outdoor weather, indoor occupancy and building physics and performance, including ventilation rates, are highly variable and have a direct impact on human perceptions of thermal comfort. To maintain ideal performance metrics, projects should continuously gather data on thermal comfort parameters in order to inform remediation actions. Monitoring thermal comfort parameters in real-time is important to prevent and resolve thermal comfort issues promptly, which ultimately contributes to improved human health, well-being and productivity.

What Is Monitored:

Highlands Sports Complex monitors, dry bulb temperature, relative humidity, and mean radiant temperature in regularly occupied areas. This requirement utilizes RESET Air monitors to measure thermal conditions, humidity, and air quality tied to indoor environmental quality.

Dry-bulb temperatures will be measured annually and submitted to WELL Online.

RESET Monitors send data to screens throughout the facility.

T07: Humidity Control

Focus: to limit the growth of pathogens, reduce off-gassing and maintain thermal comfort by providing the appropriate level of humidity.

Why it's Important:

Humidity can influence degradation of building materials and the ability of the human body to release heat through evaporation. If the humidity is too high, the human body has a limited capacity to cool down through sweating. Elevated humidity can lead to increased off-gassing; for example, an increase in relative humidity of 35% can increase the emissions of formaldehyde by a factor of 1.8 to 2.6. Moreover, high humidity may promote the accumulation and growth of microbial pathogens including bacteria, dust mites and mold, which can lead to odors and cause respiratory irritation and allergies in sensitive individuals. Conversely, low humidity can lead to dryness and irritation of the airways, skin, eyes, throat and mucous membrane. Low relative humidity is also associated with longer survival (slower inactivation) of viruses. The provision of recommended relative humidity levels has multiple benefits to human health through control of pathogen growth, improved air quality and thermal comfort.

How We Do It:

All parts of the project except high-humidity areas have relative humidity levels in the space are between 30% and 60% for at least 98% of all business hours of the year and is measured every minute of every day.