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  • Peter Kam Fai Cheung SBS

Thermal Stress

In the late 1970s, I was doing a Certificate Course in Housing Management at HKU. In addition to law subjects, I was also interested in "Environmental Technology" as I knew nothing about it. What a lecturer said about "thermal comfort" is still vivid in my mind: "It means that you're not aware of the thermal environment anymore."

Although the Hong Kong summer is not mild, I went out today with a light jacket, knowing I would need it. In a cinema at Central, showing an animated film sequel after 14 years, the air-conditioning inside the hall was so cold that I wished the film would end quicker. When the closing image appeared, parents with their children rushed out before me!

Warmed by Hong Kong's July sunshine, I got thermal comfort. Later, after researching in the High Court Library for two hours, I felt cold and began to cough, losing my concentration. "As no Library users are wearing wigs and gowns, why can't the temperature be adjusted according to the prevailing circumstances?" I thought as I was leaving.

As thermal comfort is a subjective physiological and psychological condition reflecting satisfaction with the thermal environment, it is hard to find the optimum temperature for everyone in a given space. But in and out of the cold in summer is so unnatural to me. Instead of getting "thermal comfort", I get thermal stress - what a shame!

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