The importance of thermal control in hospitals and care environments


To function well our bodies need a core temperature of around 37°C and a skin temperature of between 32 and 33°C. That said, everyone tends to have slightly different criteria for what’s ‘just right’ for them so it’s always useful to have greater control over the temperature of a space so that it can be tailored to a specific individual.

While body temperature and an ability to tailor a space’s temperature are relatively well recognised, research shows that around 90% of hospital wards are of a type that is prone to overheating and the ability to control temperatures is often limited.

As many of us will have experienced, being in any building that’s too hot is uncomfortable. So when you think that, fundamentally, hospitals are where we go to rest, recover and recuperate, being in an environment that too hot and can’t be changed is, potentially, a real issue.

To create spaces with improved thermal comfort – environments that help regulate our ideal body temperature – specifiers need to consider a number of elements. A careful balance between windows and the solid structure of the building fabric is one such consideration, as windows allow a good light quality internally but must be optimised to ensure excessive radiation and solar gains do not occur.

Recognising the importance of temperature in care environments, and more widely in all buildings, thermal comfort is one of the core principles of a fabric first approach to building comfort. Alongside thermal comfort, the approach also considers the role that factors like indoor air quality play in hospitals and care facilities and how they add up to a healthy and healing environments.