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Office Temperatures


From conversations with my colleagues at the Mesa Lab (mostly in the
A-Tower), I understand that many feel cold in their offices during the
summer months. A few may feel comfortable but no one whom I have talked to
feels warm. Of those who feel cold, none are able to adjust the
temperatures in their offices sufficiently with their thermostats. Some
open windows to avoid shivering (an early symptom of hypothermia). Most
find that they need to wear more clothes at work in summer than in winter.

Interestingly, I have heard such complaints from people in offices all over
the U.S. But let's focus on NCAR. Why do we waste so much energy only to
feel uncomfortable all summer long? By the way, I've never heard a
complaint in winter.

Thank you in advance for your attention.

Answered on October 27, 2005


The heating, venting, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems at the Mesa Lab
are currently being controlled in two different ways until the Mesa Lab
Utilities Refurbishment project is completed in 2006.

Modifications to the HVAC system have been completed in the A-Tower and the
public portions of the low building. This includes the main lobby,
cafeteria, library, and the conference rooms on the first and second
floors. In occupied areas, cool and warm air can be provided. The
temperature control system varies the amount of air supplied to an occupied
space as needed to satisfy the thermostat setting. With the exception of a
few areas where two to three offices share a common supply, most occupied
areas have a dedicated thermostat.

The building automation system (BAS) has the capability of controlling
temperatures in these dedicated areas to within a few degrees. Several
factors can impact the ability of the BAS to accurately control temperature
in a given space. These include furniture placement, proximity to outside
walls and windows, and the occupant's use of the room. Minor modification
to equipment and programming can correct the majority of problems. The
design of the system and controls will allow Physical Plant Services to
fine-tune areas of the A-Tower to meet an occupant's needs.

It is the mission of PPS to provide facilities that meet the expectations
of the staff. In many cases we are not aware that a problem exists until it
is brought to our attention by staffers. Most HVAC control systems are
designed and set to industry standards as a baseline for their operation.
Customer input, such as you have provided, will help us identify problem
areas and enable us to fine-tune the BAS to a level that provides an
acceptable comfort level while maximizing energy efficiency.

A call to the maintenance request line at ext. 1120 is all that is needed
to start the correction process.

Thanks for your question and input.

-John Pereira, Director, Physical Plant Services