Over the last 35 years, Professor Richard de Dear has focused his research career on defining what occupants want and need from their built environments, and assessing the performance of buildings in terms of meeting those requirements. He is currently the most highly cited living researcher in the domain of thermal comfort, with over 250 peer-reviewed papers plus several monographs on the subject. Within that body of research it is his adaptive model of thermal comfort that’s had the greatest impact, not just on the research community but also on the design and operation of actual buildings. De Dear’s adaptive model underpins the American Society of Heating and the Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers’ thermal comfort standard, ASHRAE 55-2004, 2010, 2013, which in turn, informs several national thermal comfort standards around the world.
The adaptive model’s positive reception in both research and practice arenas can best be explained against the backdrop of global climate change. In meeting the needs of their occupants buildings must mitigate their deleterious impacts on environment wherever possible, but also adapt to the climate change that is already “locked-in.” These are global concerns, but nowhere are they more pressing than in the newly industrialised BRIC economies where the intensity of construction activity is greatest. For this reason de Dear’s collaborative research network has included increasing numbers of East and South Asian, and South America researcher groups in recent years.
Prof De Dear’s academic career has included appointments around the world, including the Technical University of Denmark, National University of Singapore, Macquarie University, and since 2009, The University of Sydney where he is the inaugural Director of the Indoor Environmental Quality Lab. De Dear is also currently serving as an editor for Energy and Buildings, Indoor Air, and ASHRAE’s archival research journal, Science and Technology for the Built Environment. De Dear also served on the Australian Government’s Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) panel dealing with architecture and the built environment for the 2015 round.