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Shutterstock/Kjetil Kolbjornsrud
frosty front

Er, so is air conditioning sexist?

New research says that it is made with the male body in mind.

IN THE DECADES-old battle around office air conditioning, perhaps one thing hasn’t been considered: gender.

Bear with us here.

There are always going to be people unhappy with the temperature of the air conditioning in their office (and here at towers we know that well), but new research suggests that it’s because most office air-con systems set temperatures for men.

Or rather, the metabolic rates of men.

That’s according to Boris Kingma and Wouter van Marken Lichtenbelt, who write about their study in Nature.

They state:

Indoor climate regulations are based on an empirical thermal comfort model that was developed in the 1960s. Standard values for one of its primary variables – metabolic rate – are based on an average male, and may overestimate female metabolic rate by up to 355. This may cause buildings to be intrinsically non-energy-efficient in providing comfort to females.

It’s worth noting that in the 1960s, male-only or male-dominated offices would have been the norm, given the lower numbers of women working in this sphere. So basing the temperature on an average male would, at that time, have made some sense.

But today, things are different, and this study points out that the situation is not just bad for women’s comfort, but also for the environment.

The authors argue that air conditioning “should accurately represent the thermal demand of all occupants” and this would be better for the environment (and the atmosphere in the office).

Ultimately, an accurate representation of thermal demand of all occupants leads to actual energy consumption predictions and real energy savings of buildings that are designed and operated by the buildings services community.

They point out that in general, females prefer a higher room temperature than males – around 25 degrees celsius to 22 degrees respectively.

So next time you’re unhappy with the temperature of your office, you know what’s to blame.

Read: Women engineers are sharing their photos to fight sexism in tech>

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