iStock
iStock

Office Buildings Are Scientifically Too Cold For Women

iStock
iStock

Researchers have identified a different kind of glass ceiling for women at work: AC. Air-conditioned offices are inadvertently designed to be physically uncomfortable for women. Maintaining an optimal office temperature is tricky as it relies on precise calculations of occupancy, clothing expectations, and system efficiency. But the basic processes used to figure out what makes a comfortable temperature may also be skewed, resulting in women feeling much colder than men, according to a 2015 report in Nature Climate Change.

Most building standards rely on a model of thermal comfort developed in the 1960s that uses clothing insulation and metabolic rates to calculate what temperatures will make people uncomfortable. The problem is, the metabolic rate system used is based on the resting metabolic rate of a single middle-aged man, even though metabolism changes with age, sex, and body size.

That rate may overestimate women’s intrinsic heat production by as much as 35 percent, according to the study by researchers at the Maastricht University Medical Center in the Netherlands. Women typically have lower resting metabolic rates than men, meaning that when women are sitting around an office, their body isn’t producing as much heat as a man’s body would. This affects not just women, but everyone in the office, since HVAC systems are calibrated to take into account the heat generated by people being in a room together giving off body heat (that’s why an empty conference room generally is much colder than a crowded one).

Reconfiguring thermal standards for offices to take into account the fact that the workforce is no longer largely male will not just lead to greater comfort for half the population, it’ll also lead to greater energy savings and more efficient buildings, reducing the amount of energy wasted when offices are refrigerated to Arctic conditions during the summer. We could finally start leaving our thick office sweaters home on sweltering days.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
India's Supreme Court Demands That the Taj Mahal Be Restored or Demolished
iStock
iStock

The Taj Mahal is one of the most recognizable monuments on Earth, but over the years it's started to look less like its old self. Smog and insect droppings are staining the once pure-white marble exterior an unseemly shade of yellow. Now, The Art Newspaper reports that India's Supreme Court has set an ultimatum: It's threatening to shut down or demolish the building if it's not restored to its former glory.

Agra, the town where the Taj Mahal is located, has a notorious pollution problem. Automobile traffic, factory smoke, and the open burning of municipal waste have all contributed to the landmark's increasing discoloration. Insects and acid rain also pose a threat to the facade, which is already crumbling away in some parts.

India's highest court now says the country's central government must seek foreign assistance to restore the UNESCO World Heritage Site if it's to remain open. Agra's state of Uttar Pradesh has taken some steps to reduce pollution in recent years, such us banning the burning of cow dung, which produces heavy brown carbon. In 2015, India's Supreme Court ordered all wood-burning crematoriums near the Taj Mahal to be swapped for electric ones.

But the measures haven't done enough to preserve the building. A committee led by the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpu reportedly plans to investigate the exact sources of pollution in the area, a process that will take about four months. The Supreme Court plans check in on the status of site every day from July 31.

Air pollution isn't the only factor damaging the Taj Mahal. It was constructed near the Yamuna River in the 17th century, and as the water gradual dries up, the ground beneath the structure is shifting. If the trend continues it could lead to the building's total collapse.

[h/t The Art Newspaper]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
Are You Eco-Conscious? You Could Win a Trip to the Dominican Republic
iStock
iStock

Do you love lounging on the beach but also want to take action to save the planet? You'll be able to do both if you're chosen to serve as a "sustainability advisor" for a luxury resort in the Dominican Republic, Lonely Planet reports.

The worldwide contest is sponsored by Eden Roc at Cap Cana in Punta Cana. The winner and one friend will receive a five-night stay at the Relais & Châteaux hotel, where they'll partake in specially curated activities like a food-sourcing trip with the hotel's chef. (One caveat, though: Airfare isn't included.)

You don't need a degree in conservation to enter, but you will need an Instagram account. Give the resort's Instagram page (@edenroccapcana) a follow and post a photo of you carrying out an eco-friendly activity on your own page. Be sure to tag the resort and use the official hashtag, #EcoEdenRoc.

The only requirement is that the winner meet with hotel staff at the end of his or her trip to suggest some steps that the hotel can take to reduce its environmental impact. The hotel has already banned plastic straws and reduced its usage of plastic bottles, and the sole mode of transport used on site is the electric golf cart.

Beyond the resort, though, the Dominican Republic struggles with deforestation and soil erosion, and the nation scored poorly on the 2018 Environmental Performance Index for the agricultural category.

Entries to the contest will be accepted until August 31, and you can read the full terms and conditions here.

[h/t Lonely Planet]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios