Offices in times of climate change

Study about the impact of climate change on the thermal comfort in office buildings. Special attention is paid to the users´ behaviour. Basic information for the development of detailed strategies for adjustments by the real estate industry and by politics, who are actively involved into the project by participating in start and result workshops.





Starting point / motivation

The following interdependencies and impacts of climate change for existing and newly built office buildings are, by now, predictable and common knowledge:

  • climate change will massively and negatively impact upon thermal comfort of office users by rising indoor temperatures
  • productivity of office workers is directly influenced by increased indoor temperatures
  • reduced thermal comfort thereby raises costs (as salaries make up for the single most important budget point of the majority of enterprises)
  • in order to counteract, it will be necessary to implement mechanical cooling on large scale. Mechanical cooling strongly depends upon the availability of electricity at peak hours.
  • Due to significantly increased electricity demand this availability might generally not be guaranteed everywhere at any time.
  • At the same time, the generation of the requested electricity involves emissions of climate gases which further induce global warming and further aggravate the above mentioned effects.

Contents and goals

Project focus

Taking certain Viennese office buildings as concise examples, the project aims at establishing a research routine for the investigation of climate change's impact upon thermal comfort in both existing and to-be-built offices. Special emphasis is put on users' behaviour and options of influencing it positively (in the sense of increased energy efficiency).

Fields of research

This project covers new fields of research and fills gaps:

  • impacts of climate change on the thermal performance of office blocks are investigated by means of thermal simulation and thermal comfort for users is thus evaluated. Herein, also effects of local microclimate are considered; already today, these effects can even surpass those to be expected due to climate change. This may well lead to the failing of nocturnal ventilation strategies which might had been proven suitable in thermal simulations. This is especially true for plus energy buildings which do not reign sufficient reserves to puffer demand exciding predicted levels.
  • Users' influence on buildings' thermal performance is often underestimated. Therefore, this project intends to give an estimation on climate induced changes of users' behaviour.
  • Thereby, the project provides indispensable fundamentals for the evolvement of adaptation strategies for buildings to the impacts of climate change which will have to be implemented by both, real estate economy and politics.


Project management

DI Tania Berger
Danube University Krems, Department for Construction and Environment

Project or cooperation partner

  • University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Institute of Meteorology
  • University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Institute of Structural Engineering


DI Tania Berger
Donau-Universität Krems - Department für Bauen und Umwelt
Dr.-Karl-Dorrek-Strasse 30, A-3500 Krems
Tel.: +43 (2732) 893-2661
Fax: +43 (2732) 893-4650