Intensive pig and poultry production are predominantly performed in confined livestock buildings which are equipped with mechanical ventilation systems. The frequency of heat stress will increase due to climate change. Heat stress events are accompanied by performance depressions (e.g. daily weight gain, egg production, mortality, feed conversion rate). Consequently, appropriate air treatment devices can become necessary to optimise the indoor climate of confined livestock buildings because of a high inlet air temperature. In this study, we analysed the effects of three energy saving air treatment devices: (1) earth-air heat exchanger, (2) direct evaporative cooling by cooling pads, and (3) indirect evaporative cooling systems which combine evaporative cooling (e.g. by cooling pads) with a subsequent heat recovery system. All systems are compared to a reference ventilation system without air treatment, which is today's typical housing system. The results show that the earth-air heat exchanger (1) is the most efficient air treatment device. It eliminates heat stress and can also be used during wintertime to increase the inlet air temperature. The two adiabatic cooling systems (2) and (3) can reduce heat stress by about 90%. Cooling pads can lead to a high relative humidity of the inlet air between 75% and 100%, which can cause problems inside the livestock buildings, e.g. increasing the moisture content of the bedding material. The indirect cooling device can avoid this disadvantage at the expense of a reduced temperature reduction of the inlet air temperature and higher investment costs. (C) 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd on behalf of IAgrE.