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Democratic Air-Conditioning (Update: 'DC/AC'...!)

An intelligent mobile/app platform whereby the use of aircon within office environments can be optimized to minimize usage, and encourage savings where possible.

Photo of James Robertson

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In warm cities, especially Singapore, offices often overcompensate hugely with the Aircon, resulting a freezing workpalce that is both unpleasant to work in and costly to the enviroment and the tennant paying for the AC!

What if all the employees on the floor were linked into a live 'comfort-map', which asks for their feedback throughout the day and is able to adapt the AC to reach a comfortable level.

The moving average would gradually settle at the point which provides a comfotable working environment to the most people. Even better - in a hotdesk environment, people who find the same temperature either too hot or too cold could be alerted to each others' preferences, and swap desks, making everyone happy!

Thanks to Johan for the inspiration on this one.


It was a pleasure to meet Desmond Hinkson at the Open IDEO x Syinc Brainstorm Jamming evening in Singapore in November. I learned that he is already in the process of creating the App 'Climate Right' that will provide the initial user feedback on office temperature (people stating their comfort levels and GPS providing their locations) to building managers. 

DC/AC would propose to expand on this technology, and employ the app as part of a wider ecology that empowers office workers (or residents of any building) to take more ownership and control of their comfort levels, and become more aware of their ability to impact (positively or negatively) the energy consumption of the buildings they work in.

How does your concept inspire collaboration between individuals, private sector organisations, and the government in an effort to create cleaner neighbourhoods?

Individuals can state whether they are comfotable, too hot, too cold or add comments about particular windows/doors and their overall environment. These posts can be interspersed with encouraging statistics about how much energy and CO2 emissions are being saved as and when the adaptive use is measured against blanket unresponsive settings. A forum based around energy saving dialogue could act as a kind of virtual water cooler, providing a platform for discussions on all things environmental, and gradually pervade the comany consciousness, encouraging the growth in the consideration and awareness of environmental impact. The online/mobile platform/app can also act as a marketplace for private sector organisations and government to advertise and invite discussion on relevant topics.

How might your concept be scaled in a way that creates even more connections between people?

The app could begin as an intranet site that could only be accessed by employess of the same company, in the same office, but could then be rolled out across an the worldwide offices of global corporations, engerdering competition between offices internally. Extrapolating this, companies could be asked to compete in each city on aircon efficiency, with the results published in various print and digital media, providing great PR for companies that lead the way.

How might you design a small experiment around your concept that would mobilise action?

This should be started off on a few identical floors of the same building, to give an indication of the standard deviance from acceptable levels of aircon; comfort could be plotted against expenditure to create target norms for companies as they begin to set goals for optimzing aircon.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Edmund Ng

It's not easy to create such an app as the temperature varies and every individuals ability to adapt to temperature adjustments are also different.

For example, the normal temperature of Singapore is typically 29-31 degrees celcius in the afternoon and 27-28 degrees celcius in the evening. Typically office air conditioning is set at around 20 degrees celcius.

The government recommends 24 degrees and if you really set to 24 degrees and you have windows in your office, meaning heat will be insulated through the windows, you are definitely going to be still feeling the heat at 24 degrees. 24 degrees celcius is probably only realistic back at home in the evening when it's much more cooler.

While some people like it cold, some people with bad resistance levels could not really take it and often have to result in wearing coats, thick jackets to be able to survive in high tech companies typically with server rooms in place.

One thing we know of is that Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's ex Prime Minister and Minister Mentor is also one that excel on extremely low temperatures. It is said that the air-conditioning in his office is adjusted to 16 degrees. With his reptilian instincts him being apathetic it is hard to figure why.

Edmund Ng

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