Your Office Air Conditioning Unit May Be Sexist
August 4, 2015
The epic summer battle: it’s 90+ degrees outside, yet your office feels like the tundra. This awful situation causes a real problem because you basically have to dress for two completely different climates. Not only does it suck sitting in a cold office all day, but when your body is that cold all you want to do is snuggle under a warm blanket and watch Netflix. The last thing anyone wants to think about when they’re cold is actually getting work done.
Two male scientists just published a study in the Nature Climate Change journal and found that most “office buildings set temperatures based on a decades-old formula that uses the metabolic rates of men,” as stated in the New York Times.
Boris Kingma, co-author of the study and a biophysicist at Maastricht University Medical Center in the Netherlands, says, “In a lot of buildings, you see energy consumption is a lot higher because the standard is calibrated for men’s body heat production. If you have a more accurate view of the thermal demand of the people inside, then you can design the building so that you are wasting a lot less energy, and that means the carbon dioxide emission is less.”
The study found that thermostats in these office buildings are using a formula that was developed in the 1960s. Dr. Kingma and his colleague, Wouter van Marken Lichtenbelt, conclude that a variable used in this formula (resting metabolic rate) is “based on a 40-year-old man weighing about 154 pounds.”
Joost van Hoof, a building physicist at Fontys University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands notes that men usually wear the same clothing year round, like suits and ties, whereas women wear lighter clothing like dresses and skirts.
The NYT states, “Researchers found the women’s average metabolic rate was 20 to 32 percent lower than rates in the standard chart used to set building temperature.” In hindsight, this is just another situation where women get the short end of the stick.
Bundle up, ladies.