Thermal comfort in naturally ventilated dwellings in the central Mexican plateau

Carlos Zepeda-Gil*, Sukumar Natarajan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


A third of Mexico's population (35 M people) lacks decent housing. Current efforts to improve housing focus on structural strength and security rather than thermal comfort. However, as 59% of the population earns less than the median income, the building itself must provide adequate internal temperatures, i.e., the range between the minimum temperature suggested by WHO of 18 °C, and the maximum temperatures suggested by the CIBSE TM59:2017 criteria. Despite the perception of being a “warm” country, 38% of the Mexican population lives in places where the external temperatures often drop to 0 °C in winter falling to −6 °C during seasonal cold fronts. This is worrying, as a lack of adequate protection from low indoor temperatures is associated with high excess winter mortality rates. Hence, we undertake one of the first Class-II thermal comfort studies in a cold climate in Mexican homes. For eleven months, hourly indoor environmental and occupancy data, complemented with language-localised bi-monthly thermal comfort surveys, were matched against the Adaptive and PMV thermal comfort models. We find that only 42% of the living room occupied hours were within acceptability ranges, dropping to 22% in winter. Finally, we find that current strategies for achieving homeostatic heat balance are garment based (i.e., extra blankets or clothing), in addition to electric heaters to a lesser extent. Hence, we find that Mexican houses are presently not capable of providing adequate internal thermal environments during cold periods, suggesting the need for an extensive insulation programme.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108713
JournalBuilding and Environment
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by the Mexican Council of Science and Technology (CONACyT) through its programme: ‘Becas de postgrado al extranjero’.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Ltd

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Building and Construction


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