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Beyond 25°C

Figure 1: Cases of Thermal Comfort in Different Air Temperature, Clothing, and Air Speed

Keeping people comfy at work? It's all about temperature, right? But not just that; Humidity, air movement, what you're wearing, and how busy you are all play a part too. In Malaysia, where it's pretty much hot and sweaty all year round. Last year, the Malaysian government required all government buildings to increase the temperature setpoint to 25°C. But here's the question: Could we bump the setpoint up beyond 25°C, and still be comfy? 

Turns out, maybe... We investigated into some cases and looked at how people feel at different temperatures wearing different clothes (refer to Figure 1). Basically, if you ditch the suit and tie for a cool batik shirt and pants, you'll feel way better even in a warmer office up to 29°C. Think about it, who wants to sweat in a stuffy suit anyway?

But what about those extra few degrees? That's where the magic of air comes in. Those big ceiling fans you see sometimes, called high-volume low speed (HVLS) fans, can blow air around gently with a possibility speed range of 0.2 m/s to 1.2 m/s, making you feel cooler even at slightly higher temperatures (refer to Figure 2). In one of IEN's projects which is at the National University of Singapore, SDE3, we put these fans in just the right places, and everyone felt just fine, even with the indoor air temperature bumped up a notch to 26.5°C (refer to Figure 3). This suggests that similar results could be achievable in Malaysia, given its similar climate to Singapore.

Figure 2: The Air Speed of HVLS Fans (Plan View)
Figure 3: Ceiling Fans in National University of Singapore, SDE3, with 26.5°C temperature setpoint

So, the bottom line is this: In Malaysia, we might be able to save energy and be more comfortable at work if we all loosen up a bit on the dress code and let those fans do their thing. Sounds like a win-win.

Feeling the heat from the government's raised temperature settings? Here are some tips to stay comfortable and productive even if the thermostat climbs to 25°C (or even for the setpoint beyond 25°C):

  • Ditch the suit, wear cooler clothes in the office (i.e. our national clothing batik).

  • Fans are your friends, and the fan-speed adjustment is felt immediately.

  • Comfortable offices = happy people, less energy used.


Let's make Malaysian offices comfy and eco-friendly, one batik shirt at a time!


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