A recent study by Maastricht University suggests that the ideal office temperature formula is based on the body heat of an average man. Specifically a 70 kilogram, 40 year old male. The issue is, metabolic rates can vary across humans subject to a number of factors like weight, age, fitness level, etc. Women's metabolic rates are 20 to 35 percent lower than males. The research conducted in the Netherlands found the current model had the potential to overestimate womenâs heat production by up to 35%. This explains why some women feel cold in a standard office temperature.
Boris Kingma, scientist & lead author of the study, said an ideal temperature should be representative of population. His previous studies also show that an imbalance in temperature between body and environment will decrease their productivity.
Office thermostat settings are not only about thermal comfort and employee productivity but also energy efficiency. This means that the ideal office temperature will likely be influenced by planning & construction of certain parts of the building such as glazing, other insulation or the heating and cooling system.
Van Hoof, a researcher from Fontys University of Applied Sciences, commented that the energy consumption from increasing indoor temperature will be greater over time as outdoor temperature extremes increases with climate change. Re-evaluating the model to more accurately reflect thermal demands of both women and men is one thing that could help to restore the balance between body needs and environment.
Improving a buildingâs thermal insulation is way we can provide more comfortable environments as well as reducing energy consumption. As glazing often accounts for the most significant heat loss or gain in a building, it is a good idea to address this part of the building when considering comfort, productivity and energy efficiency.