Keeping coolAs people become less tolerant of high temperatures at work, and the causes of overheating proliferate, what can be done to resist the pressure to fit air conditioning everywhere?
A four-fold strategy is suggested:
- Remove or reduce heat sources
- Electrical equipment, lighting, unauthorised heaters (and indeed stray heat lossess from the fixed heating system) will all contribute to discomfort. Even desk fans are just making things worse: each could be putting out 30-50 watts of heat. So make sure that everything that can be turned off is turned off when it's not needed, and that the heating system isn't contributing to the problem. Solar gain is the other villain of the piece: look at fitting external shades, blinds or awnings.
- See if you can segregate people from heat sources. Most equipment will work fine at temperatures that humans find uncomfortable. Moreover if you do need to cool either space artificially you will be able to do so more cheaply because of the smaller volume.
- Establish the parameters
- Most environmentally-conscious organisations will not allow air conditioning of people below 26°C or 27°C and electronic equipment should be able to work at 30°C or more (you may just need to make sure that there is good airflow over the components). Put some effort in to finding out what the true tolerances are.
- Use ambient cooling
- Duct fresh air into equipment rooms, and consider overnight ventilation of occupied spaces to get free cooling. Just remember that all fans have a heating effect, so give preference to extract rather than supply fans.