Opinion: Courtroom air conditioning malfunctioning

POSTED: 08/11/11 12:09 PM

We understand that judges and prosecutors have to keep a cool head when they do their work, but yesterday temperatures at the courthouse reached arctic levels due to the relentless humming of the air conditioning system. To battle the health-threatening low temperatures, one judge opened the window of his office to let in some warm air.
We’re not sure who installed the system at the court house, but it’s a bad idea for this company to use this project as a referral for prospective customers. The system just does not work well, or else, it is working too well.
The thermostat in the upstairs courtroom remained on the highest level; that’s supposed to create warm temperatures, but this setting had no effect whatsoever on the real temperatures.
We have a couple of problems with this malfunctioning system. First of all, it’s bad for your health to spend a long time in temperatures that are so low that glasses cloud over once one leaves the courthouse.
It is also bad for the courthouse’s budget. Imagine the energy bill it will incur for having the air conditioning running at full speed, while judges open their windows in an attempt to bring temperatures down to a more agreeable level.
But maybe the system is not working incorrectly at all, and somebody is freezing the courthouse on purpose. We’ve noticed in many places on the island (banks, restaurants, offices, you name it) that people tend to set their air conditioning systems sometimes as low as 18 degrees Celsius or even lower, while a temperature closer to 23 degrees is healthier, less costly and – by objective standards – cool enough compared to outside temperatures.
Now we know that women of a certain age suffer from a condition that sends their body temperature through the roof. It is not agreeable, but it is also not a reason to freeze others to death with murderous air conditioning settings, because there is good medication on the market to regulate this female discomfort.
If SVB would be so generous to cover the cost of this medication, working conditions in many offices will improve enormously. The only loser in this concept is GEBE, because energy bills will drop dramatically.
In the meantime, we often wish that Willis Haviland Carrier had not invented that darn air conditioning in the beginning of last century. Carrier designed his cooling system as a contribution to people’s comfort. But in most offices it is used as a weapon instead.
Research in Australia has shown that most Australians are comfortable with temperatures between 20 and 26 degrees Celsius. The country’s standard code for factory and office works recommends a temperature of between 21 and 24 degrees Celsius.
While 21 degrees is definitely on the cold end of the scale, in too many places in St. Maarten the thermometer dips even lower. Again, it’s not healthy, and it’s wasteful.

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