Investigating the influences of shaded outdoor spaces on thermal adaptation and cognitive performance of university students in classroom environments

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Bilkent University
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The effects of shading strategies have been identified as an effective means to reduce urban risk factors such as the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect. Although the importance of shaded outdoor spaces and thermal comfort has been well documented in the existing literature; there is still limited research on how these spaces can influence thermal adaptability and cognitive performance of university students.
As a result, the aim of the study is twofold: (1) to evaluate the effect of shaded outdoor spaces upon thermal comfort; and, (2) link such results upon the cognitive performance of university students in a classroom environment with natural ventilation. A case study was conducted with university students between the ages of 19-22 at the Bilkent University in Ankara, during the autumn season in the month of October. The quantitative thermal microclimatic conditions of unshaded/shaded areas of the university campus and indoor classroom settings were obtained through the Physiologically Equivalent Temperature (PET) index. The qualitative evaluation of thermal comfort was undertaken by using both the adaptive model and a complementary thermal comfort survey. D2 test of attention was conducted to measure the cognitive performance of students with different outdoor shading level experiences. This study revealed that the shade condition may improve thermal adaptation, and impact PET in outdoor and indoor contexts. Experiencing such space contributed to an improvement in cognitive performance of students within classroom settings in an era of climate change, where urban fabric continues to be susceptible to existing and future heat-related stress factors.

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Thermal adaptation, Cognitive performance, Shaded spaces, PET
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