Is Your Desk Chair Leaving You Hot and Cold?

Is Your Desk Chair Leaving You Hot and Cold?

By Janet H. Thomas, RID Have you ever felt suddenly hot or cold while sitting at your desk at work? Have you ever grabbed a sweater as you left your chair and started walking around? Did you ever think the culprit for the temperature change was possibly your chair? In a Solutions Essay developed by Herman Miller the Attributes of Thermal Comfort (http://www.hermanmiller.com/research/solution-essays/the-attributes-of-thermal-comfort.html) are explored to determine how to make task seating more comfortable to the user. According to research human beings are ‘comfortable’ when ambient temperatures are neutral. If the body feels hot it sweats to reduce body temperature. If it feels cold it shivers to generate heat and raise body temperature. When sitting in a task chair, 20 to 25 percent of human skin is covered by the fabric of the chair. If the fabric and padding are of traditional non-breathable design, heat is trapped and the body cannot release it into the surrounding air. This design also prevents wicking of moisture, which is the bodies’ first defense for cooling. The trapped moisture turns cold and the body responds by trembling to heat up. Mechanical heating and air conditioning are introduced to offset these effects, which lead to higher facility maintenance costs. Newer approaches to chair design strive to combine breathable or porous textiles with permeable support structure. Pellicle, Aireweave, Cellular Suspension and NETFLEX are all porous systems developed by Herman Miller that wick away moisture and allow body heat to dissipate. The newest introduction is the Pixelated Support system, which incorporates two spring layers and a porous comfort matt under the textile cover. The stacked structure contains enough negative space to allow air flow and moisture reduction to occur. In tests the Pixelated Support System resulted in a 4 degree change in temperature as opposed to a 12 degree change for traditional foam padding. This is equivalent to the difference between a hot and cold shower! To see examples of this technology please visit Herman Miller online (http://www.hermanmiller.com/products/seating/performance-work-chairs.html)    

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