Thermal comfort has a signi?cant implication on the health, psychology and productivity of the working population who form the foundation of a country's economy. One of the ways to achieve thermal comfort while minimizing energy use is to minimize the cooling requirement of the living space.
In tropical countries with low-resource setting and shortage of energy availability, application of building materials as passive technique shall make an effective and easy method to control and improve thermal comfort. A range of materials that have the properties for passive cooling techniques may be used to help achieve thermal comfort. This could be an adaptation strategy that may offer a sustainable solution to tackle the issue of rising temperature and consequent thermal comfort impacts on the living spaces.
The means of achieving this objective is by use of various materials, notably, the materials used for building envelope, natural materials that have inherent properties to provide thermal insulation from the exterior environment, advanced materials with high insulation properties, re?ective paints and green roofs.
With the view that appropriate insulation is required to minimize the thermal impact from solar radiation, materials that have properties that could provide thermal comfort to the occupants, include materials that have been traditionally used for centuries, eco-friendly materials and new emerging technology materials. It is apparent that materials with lower thermal conductivity, thermal diffusivity and absorptivity may be suitable as envelopes for building, especially work-spaces that are occupied primarily during the day.
Certain materials like VIPs, PCMs, window glazing, ACC, polymer skin, with good thermal properties have a potential to be incorporated in different parts of the building envelope to enhance thermal comfort indoors. Light-colour external surfaces and re?ective paints are re-commended options in tropical climates, as they help minimize the surface temperature and the heat load of the building. Providing shading for both glass and opaque surfaces in windows, balanced with daylight strategy also signi?cantly improve thermal comfort inside buildings.
Use of vegetation, a traditional time-tested and proven method, should be encouraged in tropical climates to provide shading for buildings, roofs and the surrounding areas as indirect evaporative cooling by vegetation shows a promising performance in improving thermal comfort within building. For environmental sustenance, locally available, low-cost, recyclable natural materials and simple low-energy consuming techniques such as heat exchange pipes and latent thermal storage systems must be preferred options in industries and encouraged and promoted by government for tackling both the future energy needs and the changing climatic scenario. New concepts in construction materials that offer co-benefits of energy ef?ciency and thermal comfort is likely to gain momentum, and efforts to adopt new ideas in use of building materials is needed for protecting the future community from the risks of thermal stress owing to the predicted rise in temperatures due to Climate Change.
Further research to investigate the use of various building materials for the optimal thermal comfort of the living spaces and workplaces is an urgent need to tackle the health and productivity implications of rising temperatures due to Climate Change.