Women are being frozen out

Women workers in the UK are being frozen out by male temperature favoured air conditioning units.

New research by Dr Boris Kingma and Professor Wouter van Marken Lichtenbelt, from Maastricht University Medical Centre in the Netherlands, suggests that indoor climate control systems are partly based on the metabolic rate of an average 40-year-old man.

According to scientists, this means women are likely to feel cold in office with modern air conditioning units across the country as the systems overestimate the female metabolic rate by as much as 35 per cent, making woman less productive in the work place.

A study of 16 young women performing light office work showed that they were at risk of being over-chilled by air conditioning in summer.

Their metabolic rates, significantly lower than the “standard values” currently employed to set office temperatures, suggested they required less cooling in summer than men.
Current air conditioning standards are derived from research conducted in the 1960s that assessed the “thermal comfort” of 1,300 mainly sedentary students.

It took into account a value for metabolic rate, which was based on the resting metabolic rate of one 70 kilogram (11 stone) 40-year-old man.

But women’s metabolic rates are typically very different from men’s, the researchers point out.
So much so that the standard model used to set indoor temperatures may overestimate the amount of heat generated by a woman sitting still by up to 35 per cent.
Metabolic rate also lowered with increasing age.

This in turn was likely to make office heating and cooling systems less energy efficient than they could be, they added.

When installing new systems think about various factors including gender, age and physiological characteristics such as being lean or obese, as these can all contribute to the overall effectiveness of the air conditioning unit.

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