Dreaming of a Pashmina-Free World

April 18, 2013
Pashminas are shawls used to ward off the chill indoors. Why are they still so necessary in this age of advanced HVAC technology?

Do you know what a pashmina is?

Wikipedia goes into a surprising amount of detail (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pashmina), but, basically, it’s a shawl.

Recently, my wife bought two pashminas: one to keep in her office, one to keep in her car.  The one in her office serves her well because her office is “always freezing.” The one in the car is for restaurants, movie theaters, and the like, in which the temperature can be uncomfortably cold. This is for a woman who is by no means a “freeze baby”; During winter (in Cleveland!) we set the thermostat to 60 degrees at bedtime and turn on the ceiling fan. So when she says her office or a theater is freezing, she’s not being a drama queen with an overactive imagination; It’s really and truly cold.

Why does the world still need pashminas? Because despite all the new technology, outstanding equipment, remarkable controls, and (presumably) fine system designs, our industry still falls short of its ultimate goal of consistently providing physical comfort to building occupants. We all know the most common complaints of building tenants are—and have been for decades—“too hot, too cold.”  The technologies have improved. Our knowledge has improved. System designs have improved. So, why are people still uncomfortable? Why are pashmina sales booming? (OK, I just made that up. I actually have no idea what the global pashmina sales figures are.)

I realize this is “the big question” that the HVAC engineering profession has always faced. I know the answers are complex. But I’m the guy who points out to the aforementioned wife all the great things our industry is involved in and capable of (a recent trip to the observation deck of the Terminal Tower here in Cleveland had me expounding on all the various equipment we could see from 42 stories up). So, I need to explain to her why, in light of all that, she still needs not one but two pashminas.