Temperature and indoor environments
From the thermodynamic perspective, the term temperature is clearly defined for ideal physical systems: A unique temperature can be assigned to each black body via its radiation spectrum, and the temperature of an ideal gas is given by the velocity distribution of the molecules. While the indoor environment is not an ideal system, fundamental physical and chemical processes, such as diffusion, partitioning equilibria, and chemical reactions, are predictably temperature-dependent. For example, the logarithm of reaction rate and equilibria constants are proportional to the reciprocal of the absolute temperature. It is therefore possible to have non-linear, very steep changes in chemical phenomena over a relatively small temperature range. On the contrary, transport processes are more influenced by spatial temperature, momentum, and pressure gradients as well as by the density, porosity, and composition of indoor materials. Consequently, emergent phenomena, such as emission rates or dynamic air concentrations, can be the result of complex temperature-dependent relationships that require a more empirical approach. Indoor environmental conditions are further influenced by the thermal comfort needs of occupants. Not only do occupants have to create thermal conditions that serve to maintain their core body temperature, which is usually accomplished by wearing appropriate clothing, but also the surroundings must be adapted so that they feel comfortable. This includes the interaction of the living space with the ambient environment, which can vary greatly by region and season. Design of houses, apartments, commercial buildings, and schools is generally utility and comfort driven, requiring an appropriate energy balance, sometimes considering ventilation but rarely including the impact of temperature on indoor contaminant levels. In our article, we start with a review of fundamental thermodynamic variables and discuss their influence on typical indoor processes. Then, we describe the heat balance of people in their thermal environment. An extensive literature study is devoted to the thermal conditions in buildings, the temperature-dependent release of indoor pollutants from materials and their distribution in the various interior compartments as well as aspects of indoor chemistry. Finally, we assess the need to consider temperature holistically with regard to the changes to be expected as a result of global emergencies such as climate change.