If you’re a woman who works in an office, you’ll likely understand and identify with this scenario.
On any given day, your male colleagues are walking around the cubicles with T-shirts or short sleeves, perfectly content with the temperature.
At the other end of the comfort spectrum, here’s you:
Take solace, walking icicles wrapped in Snuggies; there’s finally scientific evidence for your endless, oft-unheard complaints. It’s not just you. According to new research by Maastricht University, the standard used to determine the “ideal” indoor temperature is based on the body heat of the average man, not a woman.
Current calculations for building temperatures try to balance average body heat — which is dictated by the body’s metabolic rate — and that of the room or office, in order to find the ideal level of warmth. These standards are used across both Europe and North America, said Boris Kingma, a lead researcher of the report, to CNBC.
Individual body and composition are essential in determining your metabolic rate, Kingma explained. Body cells and fat cells generate heat, even when you’re at rest (or sitting like a lump in front of a computer, whichever).
“Men are in general a bit taller than women and also a bit more muscular than women. These two add up that males in general have a higher heat production than females,” he said.
Women’s metabolic rates are 20 to 35 per cent lower than their male counterparts, said the researchers in a report.
Maintaining less-than-ideal office temperatures for women results in chilly (and unhappy) workers, and also creates a spike in energy consumption as people reach for the thermostat or go to the kitchen 17 times to drink more warm bevvies. Offices could easily lower their energy use if the temperature issue is addressed, claim the researchers.
“By taking into account the actual metabolic rate of women, a crucial step can be made in creating more energy-efficient buildings and a more comfortable working area for women,” the report explained.
It’s no longer the 1950’s, and women make up about half of the workforce. It’s time to implement some changes. How much warmer an office would become would vary, but the study cites finding as much as a five-degree difference in women and men’s preferences. Kingma said a woman might prefer 24 degrees Celsius, while a man might prefer about 21 degrees Celsius, which is a common current office temperature.
So if office buildings actually take heed and put this into practice, this could be you: