Thermal comfort

Different amounts of energy are used to stay cool or keep warm. Exploring thermal comfort can lead to a reduced environmental footprint through changes in behaviour and improvements to the school environment.

Sustainability action process learning resources

The sustainability action process is a five step process that supports problem solving through active student participation. These resources provide a structured and consistent approach to teaching sustainability across the curriculum and support learning outcomes in science, technology, geography, PDHPE, mathematics and English.

Assess your situation

Environmental factors that affect a person’s thermal comfort are air temperature, humidity, air movement and radiant heat. Personal factors are clothing and level of physical activity.


Survey students on their thermal comfort and their strategies for maintaining thermal comfort.

Analyse the surveys to identify and rate:

  • passive thermal comfort strategies such as opening windows on each side of the room to enable cross-ventilation
  • energy efficient heating and cooling strategies such as heating a room early then maintaining heat rather than heating on all day
  • heating and cooling strategies high in energy use.

Energy efficiency

Use energy auditing tools to measure the energy used by heating and cooling appliances at school.

Investigate energy efficient thermal comfort measures and design solutions that can be undertaken or installed into the school. These can be simple measures such as undertaking physical activity throughout a day, plantings to create shade or the installation of blinds or awnings.

Refer to the thermal management advice provided by School Infrastructure NSW (staff only).

Take action

Contribute to a sustainable future by being proactive in using energy efficient strategies to modify the environment to suit changing environmental conditions throughout the day. This includes modifying personal clothing or activity to maintain thermal comfort.

Syllabus content

Investigations into sustainable design solutions for thermal comfort use working scientifically and design and production skills in support of the Science and Technology K-6 Syllabus, Science K-10 and Technology Mandatory 7-8 Syllabus in:

  • Stage 1 Material world – materials are used for a specific purpose
  • Stage 1 Earth and space – changes in the sky and on land; conservation of Earth’s resources
  • Stage 2 Material world – materials are used for a specific purpose
  • Stage 3 Material world – properties of materials determine their use
  • Stage 4 Physical world – efficiency of energy conversions
  • Stage 4 Engineered systems
  • Stage 4 Earth and space – use of scientific knowledge
  • Stage 5 Earth and space – use of scientific knowledge.

Investigations into thermal comfort in the context of people’s perceptions, human well-being and natural resource use, support learning in the Geography K-10 Syllabus in:

  • Stage 2 The Earth’s environment – protection of environments
  • Stage 3 Factors that shape places – humans shape places
  • Stage 4 Place and liveability – environmental quality
  • Stage 5 Environmental change and management – environmental management.

Additional resources

Thermal management, School Infrastructure NSW, provides advice on energy efficient thermal comfort strategies, installations and design solutions (staff only).

Reduce energy bills, provides energy saving suggestions by the Australian Government.


  • Teaching and learning

Business Unit:

  • Educational Standards
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