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Category Property Services
Type Guideline
Approved by Chief Operating Officer
Date Guideline Took Effect 25 February 2008
Last approved revision 23 November 2017
Sponsor Director, Property Services
Responsible officer Operations Manager, Property Services

Please note that compliance with University Guidelines is expected in normal circumstances, and any deviation from Guidelines – which should only be in exceptional circumstances – needs to be justifiable.


To set acceptable guidelines for the thermal performance of University buildings.

Organisational scope

These Guidelines apply to all University buildings, including residential colleges and leased buildings occupied by the University, with the exception of residential flats, bedrooms, and places which require a specific thermal environment for operational reasons (e.g. temperature-sensitive equipment, chillers and freezers).


Target level of thermal comfort
The thermal environment that will allow most people doing sedentary work to be comfortable, i.e. not conscious of being either too hot or too cold.
Heating, ventilation and air conditioning.


1. Summary

  1. The University seeks to provide a safe and comfortable working environment for all staff and students.
  2. For new buildings and major redevelopments, the University's Facility Standards will be used to ensure thermal comfort.
  3. For existing buildings, it will not always be possible to meet the desired level of comfort due to the limitations of the building. In those cases the University will endeavour to provide the best thermal comfort that can practically be achieved.

2. Target level of thermal comfort

  1. The target level of thermal comfort that will allow most people doing sedentary work to be comfortable while wearing appropriate clothing for the season is:
  2. Target Levels of Thermal Comfort
    Air temperature 18-24°C
    Relative humidity 35-70%
    Air speed Slight air movement, without creating a draught.
    Radiant heat No direct exposure to uncontrolled radiant heat source or heat loss.
    Hours for target levels Occupied hours excluding extreme weather events.
    Clothing Light clothing. Winter clothing.
    Source: modified from Worksafe New Zealand Information Sheet “What you need to know about temperature in places of work” to meet ASHRAE Standard 55 “Thermal Environmental Conditions for Human Occupancy” in University buildings.
  3. This target applies to all areas used for work, learning or research, and includes ancillary spaces used for these purposes (eg corridors containing informal learning or meeting space).
  4. It will not always be practical or cost-effective to meet these levels, so they are set as a target not a requirement.

3. New buildings, and major redevelopments of existing buildings

  1. The University's Facility Standards include provisions that will allow buildings to meet the target level of thermal comfort.
  2. All new buildings shall be designed and constructed in accordance with the University's Facility Standards.
  3. Major redevelopments of existing buildings which involve replacing building thermal elements (glazing, external walls, and/or HVAC systems) shall be designed and constructed in accordance with the relevant Facility Standards for those elements.

4. Existing buildings

  1. Where an existing building has HVAC systems, they will be operated to meet the target level of thermal comfort subject to the limitations noted in 1(c) above.
  2. Where an existing building cannot meet the target level of thermal comfort, remedial measures should be considered in consultation with the relevant Facility Manager, and could include measures such as blinds, external shades or performance coatings for windows, insulation, portable fans, glazing upgrades, improved control technology, supplementary heating or cooling etc.
  3. Thermal upgrade works will be programmed with reference to the Strategic Asset Management Plan and building priorities. Where possible, works will be undertaken within maintenance budgets for that building, but where significant cost is involved works will be subject to approval through the University's adaption or capital projects processes.
  4. No ventilation, heating or cooling machinery which is attached to the building such as heat pumps or air conditioning shall be installed unless this is approved by Property Services, to ensure safety, compliance and effectiveness.

5. Where target level of thermal comfort cannot be met

  1. Where the target level of thermal comfort cannot be met under Sections 2-4 above, people may take such measures as they can take themselves without affecting work obligations.
  2. Where those measures are not sufficient, people should discuss further options with their supervisor or manager to adjust their work to reduce discomfort.
  3. Any additional heaters, in-built fans or humidifiers should be requested from Property Services, to ensure safety, compliance and effectiveness.

6. Health and Safety

  1. In some circumstances thermal conditions can go beyond just being a comfort issue, and can create Health and Safety risks (e.g. extreme heat or cold, extremes of humidity, inability to wear correct protective equipment, inability to concentrate adequately for hazardous work).
  2. In those cases the response shall be at the discretion of the relevant supervisor or manager, with the options including relocating work to a different location or rescheduling work.
  3. Where such action is taken, the supervisor or manager must complete a Thermal Discomfort Notification (available on the Health and Safety website).

7. Individual Requirements

  1. Where an individual's personal circumstances require specific accommodation outside of the usual requirements (e.g. due to illness, a health condition or disability), the Occupational Health Team must be contacted for further assessment and the development of an action plan if required.

Related policies, procedures and forms

Contact for further information

If you have any queries regarding the content of this policy or need further clarification, contact the

Property Services Operations Hub

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