Human thermoregulation

Protecting people: Optimising safety, effectiveness and comfort of work, clothing and built environments

Our research into human temperature regulation spans clothing comfort to the analysis of deaths due to heat stroke.

It has impacted policy and practice across a range of sectors including the military, sports, car manufacturing and building design. In addition, our novel approach to body mapping is now widely used within the scientific community.

Our impact

Improved human simulation models

  • Simulation models used for designing thermally comfortable cars, clothing and buildings were improved by adding a sophisticated model of human responses to the climate

Improved the applicability of indoor-climate design and evaluation standards

  • The global reach of the most used indoor-climate design and evaluation standard (ASHRAE 55 & ISO 7730) was expanded by providing data for clothing worn outside Europe and USA, for example in Africa and Asia

Underpinning evidence-based clothing design

  • Our body mapping data informs the clothing design of world-leading clothing manufacturers

Prevention of heat-related deaths

  • Expert witness testimony changed military heat illness prevention procedures

Heat Illness during SAS training
This film describes heat illness cases during military selection exercises in the UK

The research

Our pioneering interdisciplinary work draws together expertise in sports science, ergonomics, textile science, and sport and protective clothing design – and has had wide ranging impact.

We have developed a significant body of knowledge in heat transfer from the human body through clothing, and advanced the areas of body mapping and thermoregulatory processes, including the interactions between clothing and thermoregulation.

We developed an understanding of the factors that determine whether we feel comfortable, hot or cold, dry or wet, and how we experience clothing and climates in this respect.

Our work has also enhanced the used to analyse the impacts of temperature on the human body spanning comfort to stressful experiences, both indoors and out.

Key recent developments include novel work focusing on how temperature impacts different population cohorts for example the sexes, various age groups as well as people with Multiple Sclerosis and spinal cord injuries.

Another significant aspect of our work has been around heat stress and heat related deaths within the Armed Forces, particularly during training exercises. Our findings have effected changes to safeguard against future fatalities.

The body maps of sweat production zones have made a tremendous contribution to our understanding of human performance and have enabled us to design better performing apparel.

Leading sportswear brand

Research funders

  • adidas
  • Decathlon
  • European Union
  • MoD
  • Nissan

Development partners

  • adidas
  • Decathlon
  • MoD

Meet the experts

Photograph of George Havenith

Professor George Havenith

Professor of Environmental Physiology and Ergonomics

Photograph of Simon Hodder

Dr Simon Hodder

Senior Lecturer in Ergonomics / Human Factors

Photograph of Davide Filingeri

Dr Davide Filingeri

Former Lecturer

Now at the University of Southampton