As we wrap up the recent peek into ongoing “thermostat wars” of indoor workplace comfort, I wanted to pass along a quick anecdote. ES reader Arthur Belefant, P.E. saw my recent note on the subject and shared a personal experience.

An architect was hired to update the interior of a small bank, primarily by cosmetic changes. I was hired by the architect to solve an air-conditioning problem.

The bank had been designed and built with only one A/C zone for the large open banking area. The president’s office was an enclosed space with its own zone and thermostat. The several vice presidents each had a partially open alcove on a balcony overlooking the banking floor.

It seemed that several of the vice presidents were unhappy with the lack of control of temperatures in their alcoves. When I pointed out to the president that it would be necessary to make massive changes to the ductwork and controls in order to accommodate the individual desires of the vice presidents, the president declared that the estimated costs were well beyond his budget.

I suggested, jokingly, that we use the old miserly landlords’ trick of painting the radiators red and letting the tenants use their imagination, and that we put a dummy thermostat in each alcove. He took that suggestion seriously, and that is just what we did, of course without telling the vice presidents of their non-functionality.

Weeks later, on a check-up visit, he told me that he was satisfied with the installation and that the vice presidents were now happy.

No, I did not open an account at that bank.

That may have happened a while back, but today you can find ongoing research about the way that factors like indoor wall color, etc. may (or may not) influence occupants’ perceived comfort. And isn’t occupant comfort one of those instances where perception really is reality?

By the way, I didn’t get Mr. Belefant’s location when we exchanged email, so I ran a quick Google search. I happened to not only confirm that he’s a real person, but I noticed that in 1977, he was the second winner of the Governor A.W. Gilchrist Award given by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Florida.

The group explains that the award is still given annually to an engineer “who exemplifies the spirit … of public service that betters humankind, therefore bringing honor to the engineering profession.”

So, our belated congratulations to Mr. Belefant and my thanks again for reading and getting in touch.



Speaking of Florida … between Harvey and then Irma, the weather has delivered a lot of hardship to the Gulf and the Southeast. I’ve pulled some material about post-disaster strategies for dealing with HVAC systems, water damage, and so forth as thousands of nonresidential buildings work to get back to some sort of normal.

I’ll post four or five links with some notes at our LinkedIn group and on our website’s blog. You may already know a lot of the info, but even one bullet item of useful insight might help avoid further damage in terms of dollars or health.



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