How will the University ensure our offices aren’t freezing after a break?

QUESTION:

Dear Ask-Executive,

When I arrived back at work this morning after the vacation, I discovered that my office was at a rather wintry nine degrees centigrade. This isn’t the first year I’ve noticed that office temperatures don’t seem to meet health and safety minimum standards* after the Christmas break, so I’m wondering what plans the University will be putting in place to deal with this recurring issue.

*I know that the sixteen degree rule of thumb is no longer binding, but nine degrees scarcely seems “reasonable” either.

Happy new year.

ANSWER:

There have been a couple of buildings that have felt the cold early this week. The University has a Staffordshire University Heating Guidance – Final that is freely available. This states that a temperature range of 17 through 23°C will be maintained. Generally we try to maintain internal temperatures at 21°C, although a margin of error is to be expected with a range of building ages and structures and varying ages of heating plant.

A heating schedule was created that allowed the service to be set to “anti-frost” only, over the Christmas break. However, this schedule ended by the 4th Jan (or 3rd, where buildings are known to take longer to regain a comfortable temperature).

Where problems are still being reported, we are investigating an appropriate “warm up” time, and will endeavour to ensure that university buildings have gained sufficient heat for comfort after periods of disuse, in readiness for reoccupation.

However, it would appear that in the case of the Brindley and Flaxman buildings, technical faults beyond the Building Management System control have occurred, which have interrupted the normal circulation of heat. These faults are being investigated at present.

The 16°C minimum temperature is often cited but has never been a statutory minimum. It is, however commonly used as a minimum guidance temperature for sedentary work and is regarded as the “reasonable” lower limit for internal temperatures.