Why Your Office Feels Like Antarctica Even When It’s 100 Degrees Outside

posted: 08/03/15
by: Mara Betsch

Even in the heat of summer, do you keep sweaters, scarves and socks in your office? You're not alone. Many women deal with icy office climates despite outdoor temperatures nearing the triple digits. And it's definitely not all in your head, according to a recent New York Times article.

The reason why women are constantly cold while their male counterparts walk around with short sleeves is simple: the building's temperature is based on a man's metabolic rate. According to a recent study, most buildings use a thermal comfort model developed in the 1960s that considers air temperature, air speed, vapor pressure and clothing insulation, and then gauges the likelihood of people feeling too warm or too cold. The only problem is that this formulate bases the ideal temperature on the resting metabolic rate of a 155-pound, 40-year-old male.

As the workforce becomes increasingly female, this proves to be an issue. Men typically have a higher resting metabolic rate, mainly due to a higher proportion of lean body mass, and this study shows that the formula may overestimate the heat production of women by 35 percent. In fact, women's average metabolic rate was between 20 and 32 percent lower than the numbers used to set building temperature. So it should come as no surprise why it feels like winter inside when it's tropical outside.

And appeasing the women in the office isn't the only upside to readjusting the thermostat. Increasing temperatures slightly can decrease the amount of energy large office buildings use, helping fight global warming. Seems like that should convince your male co-workers to leave their blazers at home, right?