By Jerry Zezima
The Stamford Advocate
Most people who work in modern office buildings are convinced there is no such thing as climate control. I believe otherwise. Here’s why: When it’s 92 degrees outside, it’s 52 inside. Add them up and divide by two and that’s how you get an average temperature of 72 degrees.
Still, I have told my wife that I don’t have to change my seasonal wardrobe -- put winter clothes away in the spring and take out summer ones, put summer clothes away in the fall and take out winter ones -- because you never know what the temperature is going to be in the office.
Instead, I suggest that you take a suitcase to work every day so you can change clothes if it’s either too hot or too cold.
To warm up to the subject, I recently spoke with a cool guy, Steve Zimmerman, director of engineering services in the building where I work.
“We do get our fair share of complaints about the temperature,” said Steve, who was wearing a long-sleeve shirt and a tie (and, of course, pants) even though it was a hot day.
“Actually, I think it’s pretty comfortable in here today,” I said, dressed in a sweatshirt (it was “casual Friday,” even if Steve wasn’t observing it) with a T-shirt underneath and a pair of jeans. I had also brought a windbreaker in case the wind in the office broke the record for the low temperature on that date. (Office conditions are not monitored by the National Weather Service, but they should be.)
Regulating the temperature in the building, which is half a million square feet, is “a big challenge,” Steve said, adding: “We have three air compressors on the roof. And we have chillers in the basement. They have a series of pipes that blow air over the coils. There’s a lot of wear and tear on the equipment. We try to keep it comfortable, but you can’t please everybody. Some people say they’re too hot; others say they’re freezing. It’s a constant battle.”
It’s also a battle at home, said Steve, who doesn’t have central air-conditioning.
“I recently put air conditioners in the windows,” he said.
“I put one in the bedroom because it gets too hot up there,” I said.
“My wife is always hot,” said Steve. “She’ll open the window in February. I’ll have five blankets on and she’ll be on top of the sheet.”
“Have you told her that you shouldn’t have to change your seasonal wardrobe?” I asked.
“If I had the space I would,” said Steve, adding that he boxes his clothes for the appropriate season.
“But you’re wearing a shirt and tie today,” I noted.
“I have to dress professionally no matter what the temperature is,” Steve explained.
In the summer, the temperature in the office can be so cold that the place feels like a meat locker.
“Maybe,” I suggested, “we can hang sides of beef in here and use them as punching bags, like Sylvester Stallone did in the first ‘Rocky’ movie. It would be a good way to keep in shape.”
“It might also make somebody want to punch you,” Steve said.
“Good point,” I replied.
In the winter, the temperature in the office can be so hot that the place feels like a sauna.
“Maybe,” I suggested, “we can make it like a real sauna on casual Fridays and wear towels.”
“If yours fell off, you might not have a job anymore,” Steve said.
“Another good point,” I replied.
I gained new respect for Steve and all the other people who, through broiling heat and bone-chilling cold, try to keep the temperature comfortable in office buildings across the land.
Now, if you will excuse me, I have to pack a suitcase for work.
Copyright 2012 by Jerry Zezima