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In this section we consider the response of people to the thermal environment. The relationship of thermal comfort to the indoor environment can be approached in two ways.

The HVAC approach sees a 'comfortable thermal environment' as a 'product' of the building services: thermal comfort is the corrolory of a thermal balance between building and occupants.

The alternative approach (generally known as the 'adaptive approach') sees comfort as a goal which building occupants will seek: the function of the building is then to provide the occupant with the means to make themselves comfortable. This section compares the two approaches and their implications for energy use.