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Occupiers and FMs in battle of wits

End users are deploying a bewildering array of methods to modify temperatures within buildings, often frustrating the efforts of facilities managers to save energy and impose central policies.

That is the key finding from a worldwide survey carried out by The International Facility Management Association.

The survey garnered responses from 473 IFMA members in June and July and was drafted with the assistance of several HVAC experts.

The survey revealed facilities managers and occupants are often engaged in disputes regarding thermal comfort and try to out-fox each other in a number of often comical ways.

One respondent said: “We have people with lap blankets and fingerless gloves on. Sad isn’t it?”

Another said: “Some people tape cardboard to the diffusers to redirect the air away from them. They also tape ribbons to the diffusers to show us that there is air blowing from them.”

Other responses include using standalone air conditioning units, blankets and even small wading pools under the desk.

The survey said 66 per cent of building occupants adapted to discomfort by using personal fans, while 64 per cent changed clothing.

Also popular with workers — though not with building management — is the use of personal heaters, which 60 per cent of facility professionals report seeing.

When it comes to addressing occupants’ thermal complaints, facility professionals sometimes use psychological as well as practical tactics to fend off user complaints.

“We sometimes say we’ll make an adjustment, but don’t,” said one respondent. “This actually seems to work.”

“Usually, a prompt response saying that we are handling it is key,” said another.

“Then, we follow up in a couple of hours to find out if the ‘adjustments’ made an improvement. Often, we haven’t actually physically done anything to change the temperature.”