Sit back and relax – we’re going to talk about comfort

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Sit back and relax – we’re going to talk about comfort
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Sit back and relax – we’re going to talk about comfort

– by Martijn Koelewijn, 13 December 2018

Why does the cosily decorated master suite feel more comfortable than the open-spaced mess room? There are several factors that determine wellbeing, and not all are physically present in the space itself. Some are simply related to how we feel in a given moment. In this blog, I am going to explain what comfort is and how it can best be achieved.

The definition of comfort

What do we mean by comfort? And how is it different from luxury? Comfort doesn’t necessarily mean you have the softest chair in the office.

It is a state of effortless wellbeing and absence of discomfort, inspired by an environment where you can carry out your activities in total ease and contentment.

External factors in comfort and discomfort

The factors that influence the degree of comfort can be internal or external.

The external ones can be affected by design, and include:

  • Light
  • Color
  • Sound
  • Fresh air
  • Relative humidity
  • Temperature

The latter four factors are influenced by the HVAC system. Let’s take a closer look at them.

The ideal indoor temperature varies between 19 and 25°C, with the exact value depending on the activities that take place inside the room. The recommended relative humidity is between 40 and 60%; above 40%, the spread of influenza and other germs is drastically reduced.

Fresh air is another crucial parameter: the general rule for ventilation is 30m³/h of fresh air per person. And finally there is noise, which is complicated by the fact that some sounds are desirable because they mask other, more irritating, ones.

Internal factors

Internal factors are linked to the people occupying a given room. They include the clothes they’re wearing or activity in which they’re participating. Temperature should be lower in a gym than in an office, say.

Then there are more personal factors, such as body weight and metabolism, and more general ones, like the geographic location and time of year.

After five years in Brazil, where it’s always warm, I moved back to Holland, and found myself constantly cold during the first couple of weeks. The temperature in most Dutch indoor spaces is set to 21°C, far below what I was used to.

We also experience this type of thing when the seasons change: in spring, as winter is ending, a temperature of 17°C can feel very comfortable, while the same temperature in high summer would give you a chill.

You can’t make everyone happy

You might notice that, even after you’ve checked all the parameters, fine-tuned and tweaked everything for maximum comfort, there are still people who are unhappy. How is that possible?

Well, not every person is the same. Some people are naturally more cold-blooded than others. There will always be some percentage of dissatisfied users. But as long as the percentage is under ten percent, you can assume that your system is working well.

Would you like to dig deeper into the topic of comfort? Check out our blog on acoustic comfort.

Martijn Koelewijn | Project Manager

Martijn Koelewijn has been working at Heinen & Hopman since 2006. Starting out as an intern in the workshop followed by a function as draftsman, he gained valuable HVAC experience in the maritime industry. Martijn later worked his way up to project engineer and worked as a project coordinator in Germany before he moved to Brazil to manage Heinen & Hopman Brazil for five years. He returned to our headquarters in 2018 and since then has been working as a project manager for various navy projects.