One temperature to rule them all?

'I'm not saying it's hot in my office, but a couple of hobbits just threw this in'

‘I’m not saying it’s hot in my office, but a couple of hobbits just threw this in’

How much comfort should we expect HVAC to deliver? Is there such a thing as one ideal temperature for a workplace?

The facilities management group on LinkedIn has been wrestling with the question of how to create the right temperature for all staff. There is a constant string of war stories where occupiers deliberately or accidentally prevent their building systems from doing their job:

– the tenants who move temperature sensors around the room, away from the zones they are meant to control

– the pupils who come to school in strappy tops and sandals and are too cold

– the call centre operative who hid a 2.4 kW heater under their desk…except it was heating their colleagues and the wall temperature sensor, not them

– and yes, the placebo thermostat really exists.

But even though occupiers don’t always make it easy, most facilities managers take pride in trying to produce a comfortable working environment and spend a good deal of energy and time investigating complaints, especially at the transition times of year. A few top tips from the group about how to minimise complaints:

– ‘education is key. The more informed the user the less problems I have’. (Although I think the FM who gave his occupier a copy of the ASHRAE standards might have been setting the goal a bit high!)

– know your occupiers as well as you do your building services

– use different settings for areas with different loads

– accept that communication and discussion with the building’s users is an important part of the job

– set a consistent, visible and enforceable policy around temperature in the workplace.

For the full discussion and more on managing office temperatures from an facility manager’s point of view, you can join the LinkedIn group here.