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The mission of the IEQ Lab is to quantify and improve the quality of internal environments in buildings where we spend over 90% of our day-to-day lives. The lab applies rigorous scientific methods to identify and quantify the impacts of indoor environments on comfort, health, wellbeing and productivity of their occupants. From that analysis comes occupant-centred, evidence-based design guidance that is relevant to both the design-stage and operational-phase of a building’s life-cycle.

The IEQ Lab’s specific foci are thermal, acoustic and lighting comforts, along with indoor air quality. The resources of the lab can be broadly organized into these four sub-domains. The IEQ lab’s methodological philosophy recognizes the two main disciplinary perspectives in the IEQ research domain – architecture and engineering. To date most IEQ knowledge has been derived using the engineering perspective, with its focus on the elimination, or at least management of discomforts, health hazards, and productivity constraints of buildings by exclusive reliance on tightly controlled, energy-intensive technological remediation (building services engineering). But the IEQ Lab is equally familiar with the architectural approach to IEQ research, with its focus on passive and low-energy design strategies that can be applied singularly or in carefully balanced combinations that are appropriate to the external environmental and climatic contexts, with the aim being to imbue indoor environments with positive pleasure and delight for their occupants.

The IEQ Lab uses a variety of scientific methods that can be grouped into field-based and lab-based research designs. Lab methods afford rigorous research designs with precision in the control of occupant exposures, whereas field methods use actual buildings with real occupants inside them, to produce new IEQ knowledge with greater external validity and generalisability than possible with lab methods.

In both the lab- and field-based strands of the IEQ Lab’s research is an appreciation of the objective and subjective dimensions of IEQ. The former requires instrumental measurements of IEQ parameters such as temperature, humidity, air movement, ventilation rates, air quality metrics and pollution concentrations, daylight, artificial lighting, sound pressure level other acoustical qualities.

The subjective or perceptual dimension of IEQ relies on quantitative (questionnaire) and qualitative (interview, focus group) research techniques. The analytical strategy of the IEQ Lab is based on defining the quantitative associations and causal relationships between building occupants - their comfort, health and productivity - on the one hand, and the physical, objective characteristics of the indoor environments they occupy on the other.

Heading up The University of Sydney’s IEQ Lab is Professor Richard De Dear – a world-renowned expert in indoor climate and air quality. de Dear is currently the most highly cited thermal comfort researcher in the world. His impact on the international IEQ research scene stems from the adoption of his adaptive comfort model by numerous international standards organisations, including the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), which, in turn, are cross-referred to by building sustainability rating protocols such as LEED and Australia’s home-grown Green Star.

Other IEQ team members bring expertise in indoor air quality and computational fluid dynamics (Prof Jianlei Niu), IEQ data analytics (Dr Jungsoo Kim), indoor environmental instrumentation and monitoring (Dr Tom Parkinson), indoor acoustics (Associate Professor Densil Cabrera and Dr Manuj Yadav), HVAC and building services engineering (Honorary Associate Ashak Nathwani), psychophysics and environmental psychology (Associate Professor Bill Martens), lighting (Associate Professor Wendy Davis) and post-occupancy evaluation (Dr Christhina Candido), IEQ impacts on cognitive performance and productivity (Dr Jessica Zhang). Collectively this team represents the largest concentration of IEQ-related research expertise in Australia, and ranks among the larger groups in the world.

Learn more about the IEQ Lab Facilities.