Chilly at Work? Office Formula Was Devised for Men

August 6, 2015

 

 

Is your office kept cold? Do you find yourself reaching for a sweater even in the dog days of summer? Here's the reason why!

 

In the 1960's a formula was developed determine employee's optimal thermal comfort based on using factors like air temperature, air speed, vapor pressure and clothing insulation. It is converted to a seven-point scale and compared against the Predicted Percentage Dissatisfied, a gauge of how many people are likely to feel uncomfortably cool or warm.

 

Seems simple enough.

 

But Dr. Kingma and his colleague, Wouter van Marken Lichtenbelt, write that one variable in the formula, resting metabolic rate (how fast we generate heat), is based on a 40-year-old man weighing about 154 pounds.

 

 

Maybe that man once represented most people in offices. But women now constitute half of the work force and usually have slower metabolic rates than men, mostly because they are smaller and have more body fat, which has lower metabolic rates than muscle. Indeed, the study says, the current model “may overestimate resting heat production of women by up to 35 percent.”

 

“If women have lower need for cooling it actually means you can save energy, because right now we’re just cooling for this male population,” said Joost van Hoof, a building physicist at Fontys University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands, who was not involved in the study.

 

 

Read more at www.nytimes.com

 

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