ASHRAE challenges reports that are unchanged from the 1960s making offices “cold.” Read more below to discover more information about the report!
Host Norah O’Donnell hovered in a red blanket while the offices are too cold segment aired on CBS This Morning, though even Charlie Rose complained of cold. Not only did the segment say that the cold temperature setting was uncomfortable, but also that raising temperatures to a recommended 75 degrees could save cash on utility bills and lower CO2 emissions (office temperature emissions account for 30 percent of global CO2 emissions).
ASHRAE differs with the chilly assessment and says temps are fine, thank you very much, that is, if building engineers follow recommendations. The organization says that it has constantly updated standards. Unfortunately, some buildings just change from heating to cooling without adjusting thermostats, and in somce cases, tenants request cold temperatures in their leases.
The media blizzard about the frizen office likely began with an August 3rd scientific study, complete with charts, released in the journal Nature Climate Change; the study was quickly picked up in a news story in Science Magazine, a go-to source for many news outlets. The Science feature begins, “If you’re constantly bundling up against your office building’s air conditioning, blame Povl Ole Fanger. In the 1960s, this Danish scientist developed a model, still used in many office buildings around the world, which predicts comfortable indoor temperatures for the average worker. The problem? The average office worker in the 1960s was a 40-year-old man sporting a three-piece suit.”
70 degrees Fahrenheit based on three-piece suits
In the 1960s offices were populated largely by men in three-piece suits (meaning suits with vests). Few women were fully employed, less than 15 percent of the total workforce of women over the age of 16 were fully employed in 1967, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and not all of them would have been in an office. The few women in offices were wearing their own suits, or popular sweater sets, which included a matching pullover sweater and a cardigan. Even into the early 1990s, offices had dress codes. I remember a female friend who was required to not only wear suits but also had to wear closed-toe shoes all year round. She could not even wear what used to be called peep-toe shoes, with cuts in the toe of a shoe that allowed just a peep of a toe and that toe was required to be clad with nylon stockings. Times have definitely changed, though I still know women who hide space heaters under their desks to stay warm in their offices.