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Measuring indoor air quality

Indoor Environmental Quality Lab

Improving the indoor environmental quality

The Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) Lab is a major international hub for the building research community and the broader construction sector to study how multiple indoor environmental factors affect human comfort, performance, and health.

Our specific focus is on thermal, acoustic and lighting comforts, along with indoor air quality. We produce occupant-centred, evidence-based design guidance that is relevant to both the design-stage and operational-phase of a building’s lifecycle.


The scope of our research spans indoor and semi-outdoor environments in residential, commercial office, retail and educational building typologies.

Our modus operandiincludes both field-study and laboratory-experimental research methods, and in both cases we apply objective (instrumental) as well as subjective measures (questionnaires, interviews) in a stimulus-response research design.

Using lab methods allows for precise control of experimental subject exposures to indoor environmental qualities such as temperature, humidity, air movement, ventilation rates, and pollution concentrations, daylight, artificial lighting, sound pressure level, audible speech, and other acoustic qualities. Field methods on the other hand, use actual buildings with ‘real’ occupants (cf experimental subjects). The key advantage of field methods is that they bring greater external validity and generalisability than lab methods. The IEQ Lab often combines both approaches to optimise internal and external validity.

The mission of our research in indoor environmental quality is to improve the quality of internal environments in buildings where we spend more than 90 percent of our day-to-day lives. We aim to define the relationships between building occupants – including their comfort, health, wellbeing and productivity – and the physical characteristics of the indoor environments they occupy.

Lab Director: 

Professor Richard de Dear AM


  • Dr Masanari Ukai  

Visiting Scholar  - Waseda University (Japan)
November 2019 – November 2020
Supervisor: Richard de Dear

  • Dr Hui Zhu 

Visiting Scholar  - The University of South China (China)
September 2019 – September 2020
Supervisor: Richard de Dear

  • A/Prof. Shinya Morikami

Visiting Scholar - Toyota College (Japan)
September 2019- April 2020
Supervisor: Richard de Dear

  • A/Prof. Naoe Nishihara

Visiting Scholar – University of Sacred Heart (Tokyo, Japan)
October 2019 – March 2020
Supervisor: Richard de Dear

  • Dr Kameni Modeste 

Visiting Scholar - University of Liège (Belgium)
Jan 2020 – March 2020
Supervisor: Richard de Dear

  • Ms Wenjie Ji

Visiting Scholar – Tsinghua University (Beijing, China)
September 2018 – September 2019
Supervisor: Richard de Dear

  • A/Prof. Amir Omidvar

Visiting Scholar – Shiraz university of Technology (Shiraz, Iran)
May 2019 – November 2019
Supervisor: Richard de Dear

  • Mr Murat Mustafa

Visiting Scholar – Loughborough University (Loughborough, England)
May 2019 – November 2019
Supervisor: Richard de Dear

  • Mr Yi Ju

Visiting Scholar – Tsinghua University (Beijing, China)
August 2019 – September 2019
Supervisor: Richard de Dear

  • Dr Ji-Hye Ryu 

Postdoctoral researcher - Kyungpook National University (Korea)
September 2018 – August 2019
Supervisor: Richard de Dear

  • Dr Yan Xiong

Visiting Scholar  - Wuhan U (China)
28th March 2018 - 27th March 2019
Supervisor: Richard de Dear

  • Professor Jan Hensen

Visiting Professor - Technical University of Eindhoven, Netherlands
4 October 2018 – 5 January 2019
Supervisors: Richard de Dear and Jianlei Niu

  • Dr Yongxin “Sherry” Xie  

Visiting Scholar - Hong Kong Polytechnic University 
1st March 2018 - 31st December 2018
Supervisor: Jianlei Niu

  • Dr Lijuan Wang

Visiting Scholar – Xi’an Polytechnic University (China)
1st January 2018 - 31st December 2018
Supervisor: Richard de Dear

  • Professor Runa Hellwig

Commonwealth of Australia Endeavor Executive Fellowship
Aalborg University, Denmark
27 July 2018 – 18 September 2018
Supervisor: Richard de Dear

  • Dr Jianong Li 

Visiting Scholar - Hong Kong Polytechnic University 
20th September 2018 – 20th December 2018
Supervisor: Jianlei NIU

  • Dr Yuchen Ji

Visiting Scholar – Harbin Institute of Technology (China)
September 2018 - December 2018
Supervisor: Richard de Dear

  • Dr Ricardo Forgiarini Rupp

Visiting Scholar – Federal University of Santa Catarina Brazil (now Research Fellow at the Technical University of Denmark)
April 2017 – October 2018
Supervisor: Richard de Dear

  • Dr Jing Xiong

Visiting Scholar – Shanghai Jiao Tong University (China)
December 2016 – December 2017
Supervisor: Richard de Dear

  • Dr Younkyu SEO 

Visiting Scholar – Kyungpook National University (Korea)
2016 – 2017
Supervisor: Richard de Dear

  • Dr Haoran Ning

Visiting Scholar – Harbin Institute of Technology (China)
September 2016 – December 2016
Supervisor: Richard de Dear

  • Dr Xiuyuan Du

Visiting Scholar – Chongqing University (China)
2015 – 2016
Supervisor: Richard de Dear

  • Dr Sijie Liu

Visiting Scholar – Tongji University, Shanghai China (currently University of New South Wales – Faculty of Built Environment)
2015 – 2016
Supervisor: Richard de Dear

Thermostat Settings and Occupant Behavioural Settings

Researchers: Professor Richard de Dear, Dr Jungsoo Kim, Dr Dong Chen (CSIRO)

This project aims to develop a rating methodology for naturally-ventilated dwellings in Australia. Field work components of the project include large-scale household monitoring campaigns in:

·       Sydney-Wollongong (Australian Building Codes Board climate zone 5 - warm temperate)

·       Brisbane-GoldCoast (Australian Building Codes Board climate zone 2 - warm humid summer, mild winter)  

IEA-EBC Annex 69: Strategy and Practice of Adaptive Thermal Comfort in Low Energy Buildings


Researchers: Professor Richard de Dear Dr Jungsoo Kim

This Annex focuses on the fundamental question of how to describe the mechanisms of occupant adaptive thermal comfort in buildings, as well as the application of the thermal adaptation concept in design, evaluation and control of built environments in order to reduce energy use. This international working group is led by Prof Richard de Dear (University of Sydney) and Prof Yingxin Zhu (Tsinghua University). There are currently 11 IEA-EBC member countries participating in this Annex, along with 1 non-member country. The participants collaborate to establish a worldwide database of building performance, to develop and improve the adaptive method in indoor thermal environment standards, and to propose guidelines for using the adaptive approach in low energy building design, operation, refurbishment, and new personal thermal comfort systems. Researchers, architects, engineers, developers and policy makers in the related fields will benefit from the outcomes of this Annex.

Innovation in Advanced Multi-Storey Housing Manufacture


Researchers: Professor Mathew Aitchison, Professor Richard de Dear, Professor Nicole Gurran, Associate Professor Sandra Loschke, Mr Rizal Muslimin.

Funding Source: Cooperative Research Centre Projects, Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.

The project will develop a range of solutions for the multi-storey housing market that address increasing urban density and residential market demands.

Indoor Environmental Quality of Sleeping Spaces 

Funding Source: 2018-19 Partnership Collaboration Fund – The University of Sydney and Shanghai Jiao Tong University 

Researchers: Prof Richard de Dear, Dr Jing Xiong, Professor Zhiwei Lian (SJTU) Associate Professor Li Lan (SJTU).

In this proposed collaborative research, University of Sydney and SJTU researchers will conduct comparative studies on sleeping environmental parameters (specifically operative temperature and bedding thermal insulation values) as stipulated in the relevant Chinese and Australian (international) basic standards for thermal environmental conditions for human occupancy.

Solving the problem of speech distraction in open-plan offices 

Funding source: 2016-18, Australian Research Council (ARC) DP DP160103978

Researchers: Professor Richard de Dear, Dr Densil Cabrera, Dr Jungsoo Kim

Without internal walls, open-plan offices are designed to make people interact more frequently and therefore be more collaborative and productive. Yet there is a high level of dissatisfaction with the open-plan layout because of frequent distraction by background speech from co-workers, which has been shown to significantly decrease work performance and productivity. This project aims to better understand how irrelevant speech in open-plan offices affects the occupants’ cognitive performance and creates annoyance. The intended outcomes are the development of powerful new tools to measure, model and predict the degree of speech distraction at work, enabling establishment of new international standards.

Development of a global thermal comfort data base

Funding source: 2014-16 American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc.  Technical Committee 2.1 research grant.

Researchers:  Professor Richard de Dear, Dr Thomas Parkinson, Dr Jungsoo Kim, Dr Hui Zhang (UC Berkeley), Professor Ed Arens (UC Berkeley)