Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Oh, to Be Warm in Summer’s Heat

Why are airports, shops, offices and homes in the United States and elsewhere chilled to sweater-weather temperatures in summer when the temperature outside rises? “Everyone asks the question, but no one has a good answer,” said Fergus Nicol, a cooling expert and professor emeritus of architecture at London Metropolitan University. “I think it’s because air-conditioners are supposed to produce cool, so it has become an expectation.” Maybe, he said, there’s also a bit of “conspicuous consumption.” ALAN MEIER, A SENIOR SCIENTIST AT LAWRENCE BERKELEY NATIONAL LABORATORY, said there was debate about whether people could acclimate to a new “comfort regime.” He noted that, just as in lighting, the attitude was “the more the better.” But lighting designers backed off that predilection; he said the same trend might follow in cooling. More>