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Last Updated: Monday, 30 May, 2005, 12:52 GMT 13:52 UK
Hong Kong air-con 'is too cold'
By Chris Hogg
BBC News, Hong Kong

Office workers in Hong Kong are being urged to reduce their reliance on air conditioning as summer gets under way.

Hong Kong
One of the coldest air-conditioned places in the world
Increasing the temperature in offices across the territory by just 1C would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 2.5m tons a year, according to environmental group Friends of the Earth.

Hong Kong's subtropical climate means it is hot and humid here at the moment, but inside most offices it is frankly quite chilly.

During the energy crisis in the early 1970s, the government recommended the temperature should be 25.5C, but that is largely ignored, it seems.

Research carried out by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University suggests that most companies set the temperature at between 21C and 22C - making the territory one of the coldest air-conditioned places in the world.

Lost in translation

Experts at the university blame a mistranslation for the territory's cold working environment.

They say that when air-conditioning was introduced in Hong Kong in the 1950s, it was translated into Cantonese as "cold air machine".

As a result, people expect it to produce a cold environment rather than what the scientists describe as proper thermal comfort - a temperature which allows you to work without feeling uncomfortable.

The potential savings of increasing the temperature are huge, they argue.

A rise of just 1C in a 40-storey building could save almost $26,000 a year.

Regions and territories: Hong Kong
26 Oct 04 |  Country profiles

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