top of page

An Arctic Cinema Experience: Battling the Chill in World War II Screening

Updated: Aug 22, 2023

Recently, the silver screens were graced by the arrival of two highly anticipated movies ‘Barbenheimer’ and igniting a wave of excitement among IENers. Among the movie choices, we made a resolute decision to experience ‘Oppenheimer’, a gripping three-hour movie delving into the tumultuous life of the American theoretical physicist who played a crucial role in researching and developing the two atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II. So, in order to enjoy that, we had to bring extra clothes along to the cinema as the cinemas in Malaysia and known to be freezingly cold. In this article, we will delve into the thermal discomfort faced by cinema visitors due to the suboptimal thermal conditions due to excessive air-conditioning.

In those three-hour of cataclysms, we managed to log the cinema’s temperature and relative humidity throughout the screening. We placed the datalogger on an unoccupied seat while maintaining a moderate distance from the crowd. The logger was deployed throughout the movie screening from 18:30 – 21:30 on Friday 21st July 2023 in the GSC 3 Damansara cinema.

Measured temperature and RH during 3-hour movie in cinema

To analyze the thermal comfort in the cinema, we utilized the Center for the Built Environment (CBE) tool, which adheres to the ASHRAE 55-2020 Standard for human comfort. ASHRAE 55-2020 sets the standard for thermal environmental conditions in occupied spaces, with the goal of ensuring occupant comfort and well-being. The standard takes temperature, humidity, and clothing insulation into account to establish a range that satisfies the comfort preferences of at least 80% of individuals. However, Figure 2 illustrates that the measured air temperature in one of the cinema halls falls significantly outside the thermal comfort range specified by ASHRAE 55-2020. The thermal comfort analysis shows that cinema is uncomfortably cool to 74% of the occupants, with a predicted percentage dissatisfied (PPD) value of 74%. Ideally, the PPD value should not exceed 10%.

Thermal comfort analysis in the cinema using the CBE Thermal Comfort Tool

Looking specifically at our thermal sensation in the cinema, it was far down the scale on the cold side:

Thermal sensation was "Cool", far from the optimal neutral state

Ensuring thermal comfort in a cinema is crucial to provide an enjoyable experience for the audience. We would recommend the following strategies to address thermal comfort issues in cinema halls:

  1. HVAC Comprehensive Audit: Following a thorough audit of the cinema's HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) system, adjustments to the HVAC system can be made to keep the cinema at a suitable temperature. Optimizing cooling cycles can help bring the environment in line with ASHRAE 55-2020 standards.

  2. Occupancy-based Cooling: Incorporate occupancy sensors or smart controllers that adjust cooling based on the amount of people in the cinema. This prevents energy waste when the cinema is not at full capacity.

  3. Benchmarking and Certification: Aim for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), GBI (Green Building Index), and other green certification tools to ensure the cinema meets high-performance standards.

  4. Continuous Improvement: Maintain a regular maintenance schedule for all HVAC equipment, including air filters and ventilation systems. Monitor temperature and humidity levels on a regular basis to ensure they remain within the ideal range.

  5. Thermal Comfort Education: Educate cinema employees on thermal comfort and how to properly identify and address comfort issues. Empower them to adjust cooling settings based on feedback from visitors.

Arctic encounters in cinemas can be gradually lessened by incorporating the aforementioned sustainable strategies. An enjoyable cinematic experience should not be marred by freezing temperatures! By acknowledging the issue and taking proactive steps to improve the uncomfortable conditions in the movie hall would allow us to create an ideal environment for watching 'Barbenheimer' and other films.

We also managed to take these before and after entering the cinema hall photos of IENers with our extra garments and… gloves. But overall, ‘Oppenheimer’ was an excellent film but not great for people who dose off within 20 minutes

IENers before Oppenheimer Screening (0.57 clo) and after screening (0.74 clo)

Who’s up for Barbie?


bottom of page