Look around your office: Who is wrapped in blankets, and who is sitting comfortably in front of their computer screens? You’ll probably find that women tend to be the employees covered in goosebumps. The good news is that scientists have given them someone to blame—a new study published in Nature Climate Change revealed that the office thermostat only accounts for the male’s body temperature. And since men have a higher average body temperature—or resting metabolic rate—women are often left freezing in their desk chairs.
Why do building staffs think they need to turn offices into the tundra? Because the original climate regulation strategy was based on “an empirical thermal comfort model that was developed in the 1960s.” Once researchers from the University of Maastricht University Medical Center looked at the formula more closely, they saw that, in addition to being decades-old, it was developed around the body temperature of a middle-aged man, and so overestimated the resting heat production of women by up to 35 percent. While this isn’t ideal for working conditions, it’s also not ideal for climate change, explains researchers. In fact, blasting the A/C accounts for roughly 30 percent of total carbon dioxide emissions.
“In a lot of buildings, you see energy consumption is a lot higher because the standard is calibrated for men’s body heat production,” study co-author Boris Kingma told The New York Times. “If you have a more accurate view of the thermal demand of the people inside, then you can design the building so that you are wasting a lot less energy, and that means the carbon dioxide emission is less.”
You heard it from the researchers first—it’s time for women to make some thermal demands, and leave the scarves at home for the summer.