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British must learn to stop losing their cool

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Since the 1960s, UK architects have been happy to trade savings on perimeter- wall costs from deep-plan design, to pay for air cooling plants and, as usual, as an excuse to try another building form.

Now the wheel, and fuel costs, have turned and we are into natural ventilation. But now we have raised expectations and office workers expect to be cooled whenever variations in our (in world terms) very benign climate produce temperatures over the mid-70s.

In countries where you need cooling, windows and doors are kept well shut, to keep the expensive cold in. Here we want both, so we set, to quote Bill Bordass 'simple, effective, usable' rooms thermostats to cool to the low 70s, while the windows are open onto the high 70s, and then complain that the system is not working. What we need and do not appear to see offered from the M & E consultants and industry are cut-outs to shut off the cooling as soon as the windows are opened.

Brian Michael, Company Architect, Northern Counties Housing Association

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