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我们为什么那么迷恋空调?

更新时间:2015-7-26 10:56:06 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Enduring Summer’s Deep Freeze
我们为什么那么迷恋空调?

IT’S summertime. The season when you can write your name in the condensation on the windows at Starbucks, people pull on parkas to go to the movies and judges have been known to pause proceedings so bailiffs can escort jurors outside the courthouse to warm up.

夏天又到了。星巴克里空调开得那么大,窗上凝着一层白雾,你可以在上面写下自己的名字;人们穿着风衣去看电影,据说有的法官因为太冷而休庭,让法警护送陪审员出去暖和一会儿。

On these, the hottest days of the year, office workers huddle under fleece blankets in their cubicles. Cold complaints trend on Twitter with posts like, “I could preserve dead bodies in the office it’s so cold in here.” And fashion and style bloggers offer advice for layered looks for coming in and out of the cold.

在一年中最热的日子里,办公室职员们却在隔间里裹着羊毛毯。Twitter上,大家都在抱怨室内太冷,诸如“我们办公室冷得像太平间。”时装与时尚博客写手们纷纷传授层叠搭配的办法,好让大家应对出入温差。

Why is America so over air-conditioned? It seems absurd, if not unconscionable, when you consider the money and energy wasted — not to mention the negative impact on the environment from the associated greenhouse-gas emissions. Architects, engineers, building owners and energy experts sigh with exasperation when asked for an explanation. They tick off a number of reasons — probably the most vexing is cultural.

美国人为什么那么迷恋空调?这看上去很荒唐,而且要浪费那么多金钱和能源,实在太不理性——还不算排放温室气体对环境的负面影响。被问到这个问题时,建筑师、工程师、大厦业主和能源专家都会愤愤不平地叹息。他们会列举很多原因,或许最让人恼火的就是文化。

“Being able to make people feel cold in the summer is a sign of power and prestige,” said Richard de Dear, director of the Indoor Environmental Quality Laboratory at University of Sydney, Australia, where excessive air-conditioning is as prevalent as it is in much of the United States. He said the problem is even worse in parts of the Middle East and Asia.

“能让人在夏天觉得凉快是权力与特权的象征,” 澳大利亚悉尼大学室内环境质量实验室主任理查德·德·迪尔(Richard de Dear)说,在澳大利亚,过度使用空调也像美国一样普遍。他说问题在中东与亚洲更加严重。

Commercial real estate brokers and building managers say sophisticated tenants specify so-called chilling capacity in their lease agreements so they are guaranteed cold cachet. In retailing, luxury stores like Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue are kept colder than more down-market Target, Walmart and Old Navy. Whole Foods is chillier than Kroger, which is chillier than Piggly Wiggly.

商用建筑地产商和建筑管理者说,精明的房客会特意在租约中列好所谓的制冷能力条款,确保得到冷气待遇。在零售界,波道夫·古德曼(Bergdorf Goodman)、尼曼·马库斯(Neiman Marcus)和萨克斯第五大道(Saks Fifth Avenue)等奢侈品商店都会把冷气开得比Target、沃尔玛或者Old Navy这些平价商场要大。健康食品(Whole Foods)比克洛格(Kroger)冷,克洛格又比Piggly Wiggly冷。

There’s also the widely held misconception that colder temperatures make workers more alert and productive when, in fact, research shows the opposite. Studies have shown people work less and make more mistakes when the air temperature is 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit versus 74 to 76 degrees. Moreover, some research indicates feeling cold can take a psychological toll, making people untrusting, uncommunicative and unfriendly.

还有一种广泛的误解,认为较低的温度能让工作者更敏捷,更有效率,事实上,研究表明正相反。若干研究结果显示,相比74至76华氏度(约24-26摄氏度),人们在68至72华氏度(约20-22摄氏度)时工作效率更低,更容易犯错误。此外,有些研究表明寒冷会增加心理负担,令人们倾向于缺乏信任、不愿沟通、不友善。

As infants we learn to associate warmth with the safety of our parents’ arms. Our subconscious equates cold with vulnerability, which partly explains why people can be so miserable when they are chilled.

我们从婴儿时期便会把“温暖”同父母安全的怀抱联系在一起。而我们的潜意识则把“寒冷”等同于脆弱,这也部分解释了人们何以在受冻时就显得惨兮兮的。

A region of the brain called the hypothalamus is responsible for our body’s thermoregulatory system, constricting blood vessels when we are cold and dilating them when we are hot to maintain a safe core body temperature. Your physical discomfort is essentially the hypothalamus prodding you to say, put on a sweater if it’s chilly or fan yourself when it’s hot.

人类大脑内名叫下丘脑的区域负责体温调节,人体寒冷时便收缩血管,温暖时则扩张血管,保证核心体温处于安全状态。如果身体觉得不舒服,其实是下丘脑在提醒你,“冷了,快套件卫衣吧”,或者“热了,赶紧凉快一下”。

Extreme temperature changes like entering a freezing lobby on a sweltering summer day may feel good at first, but it makes the hypothalamus go nuts, intensifying physical and psychological discomfort when the initial pleasure wears off — as if to say: “A blizzard is on its way! Do something!”

在炎热的夏日突然走进让人打冷战的空调大厅,这种急骤的温度变化可能一开始让人觉得舒服,但却会让下丘脑抓狂。等最初的快感一过,它就会加强你身心的不适感,好像在对你说:“暴风雪就要来了!赶快采取措施呀!”

“It’s left over from a time when it was dangerous to have that kind of change in temperature,” said Nisha Charkoudian, a research physiologist with the United States Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine in Natick, Mass.

“这是从过去那种温度骤然变化会带来危险的时代遗留下来的本能,”马萨诸塞州内蒂克美国陆军环境医学研究所的心理研究员妮莎·卡库迪安(Nisha Charkoudian)说。

The problem is compounded by building managers who, surveys indicate, typically don’t adjust the temperature set point higher in summertime when people wear lighter and more revealing clothes than they do in wintertime. Since thermoreceptors (nerve cells that sense temperature changes) are on your skin, the more of it you have exposed, the colder you are going to feel. Sixty-eight degrees feels a lot different if you are wearing a wool turtleneck, slacks and boots versus a poplin sundress and sandals.

此外研究还显示,在夏天,大厦管理员一般不会把温度调高,而人们在夏天穿得比冬天轻便、暴露,也令问题变得更复杂。因为你的皮肤上有温度传感器(可以感知温度变化的神经细胞),你穿得愈暴露,就愈容易感受到寒冷。穿着羊毛高领衫、长裤和长靴呆在68°的环境里是一回事,穿着府绸太阳裙和凉鞋又是另一回事了。

However, you can understand managers’ bias toward keeping the lower, wintertime setting when many are men and might wear ties and jackets no matter the season. They may be even less inclined to bump up the thermostat if they are heavyset, as body fat is the ultimate heat insulator.

不过,你能理解大厦管理员们倾向于为大厦保持冬天般的低温,因为他们大都是男人,一年四季都得西装革履。如果他们身材魁梧,那可能就更不嫌冷了,因为体脂肪是人体最好的隔热器。

Air-conditioning systems are also usually designed for worst-case scenarios — full occupancy of a space on the hottest day of the year. As part of that calculation, designers might have assumed heat loads that factor in older-model computers and less energy-efficient lighting that radiate much more warmth than the machines and bulbs used today.

而且,空调系统通常是为最糟的情况而设计的,就是说,要能应对这个空间里一年中最炎热的时候。为了这个目的,设计师或许需要考虑各种发热的因素,诸如过去使用的老式电脑,以及不够高效,会散热的照明系统。

And, engineers say, they might add a 20 percent upward correction, just to be on the safe side. A result is systems with ridiculous overcapacity that don’t run well on low settings.

而且,工程师们说他们在设计时为安全起见,还会增加20%的校正值。于是系统的制冷能力就极度过剩,在低设定的环境下会运行不良。

“It’s analogous to a high-tune car where you have to keep your foot on gas to keep it from stalling out,” said Edward Arens, professor of architecture and director of the Center for the Built Environment at the University of California, Berkeley.

“有点像高性能的车子,你得把脚放在油门上,才能不让它失速,”建筑学教授与加州大学伯克利分校建筑环境中心主任爱德华·阿伦斯(Edward Arens)说。

Paradoxically, another reason for aggressive air-conditioning is energy-efficient building construction. Better sealing and insulation keeps air-conditioning from escaping but it also keeps fresh air from entering. So cool air is often kept blasting to meet mandated air quality standards for levels of carbon dioxide that build up in the absence of outside air. The cool air also controls humidity, which can lead to every building manager’s nightmare: mold.

矛盾的是,节能建筑也会导致空调开得过大。这样的建筑有着更好的密封与隔热性,可以让空调冷风不散漏出去,但也阻挡了新鲜空气进来。所以外面的空气进不来,但是为了达到室内空气质量的二氧化碳含量标准,室内的空调冷气就得一直猛吹。冷空气还会影响湿度,造成了所有大厦管理人员的噩梦:发霉。

STILL, Mr. Arens and his colleagues found that when they reduced airflow in several office buildings during the summer, including ones on the Yahoo campus in Sunnyvale, Calif., air quality was not diminished and it cut employee cold complaints in half as well as reduced the energy bill by as much as 30 percent.

不过,根据阿伦斯和同事们的试验,夏天在某些办公楼内降低空气流动(其中包括加利福尼亚桑尼维尔雅虎园区内的若干大楼),空气质量不会下降,雇员对空调太冷的抱怨减少了一半,能源方面也节省了30%的开支。

While architects like Mr. Arens point the finger at engineers for designing air-conditioning systems with too much capacity, engineers can justifiably point the finger back at those architects who often have an aesthetic aversion to thermostats.

阿伦斯等建筑师们指责工程师把空调性能设计得太高,而工程师们也有理由指出,建筑师们通常是从美学角度出发,对恒温器抱有厌恶之情。

“Architects try to convince mechanical engineers to hide sensors so they don’t mess up their beautiful design, so you find them in quite out-of-the-way locations” like within air inlets on the ceiling, where, because heat rises, they provide less than accurate readings, said Jon Seller, general manager of Optegy, an energy management consulting firm based in Hong Kong, which specializes in maximizing the efficiency and automation of air-conditioning systems.

“建筑师们总是劝机械工程师把传感器藏起来,这样就不会破坏他们的美丽设计,所以它们都藏在边边角角的位置”——比如天花板上的通气口之类的,而温度上升的时候,这样的位置往往不能准确地读数, Optegy的主管乔恩·塞勒(Jon Seller)说,这是一家香港的能源管理咨询公司,专长是空调系统的自动化,并将其效率最大化。

A couple of computer scientists have developed a smartphone app that proposes to solve that problem by making people the thermostats. Users can tell the app, called Comfy, whether they are hot, cold or just right. Over time, it learns trends and preferences and tells the air-conditioning system when and where to throttle up or throttle back the cooling. So far it’s used in a dozen buildings, including some of Google’s offices and some government-owned buildings, for a total of three million square feet. The developers claim Comfy-equipped buildings realize savings of up to 25 percent in cooling costs.

有些电脑专家开发了智能手机应用来解决这个问题,原理是把人们自己变成温度传感器。使用者可以告诉这个名叫“Comfy”的手机应用,自己觉得太热、太冷还是刚好。过一段时间,这个应用便会了解人们的趋势和偏好,告诉空调系统,该在哪里开大冷风,该在哪里关小冷风,何时开大,何时关小。目前已经有十几栋建筑使用了这种应用,包括谷歌的一些办公室,还有若干政府建筑,它的覆盖面积达到300万平方英尺。开发者说有了Comfy的建筑能够在制冷方面节省25%的费用。

“We have a lot of data that people are most comfortable if they have some measure of control,” said Gwelen Paliaga, a building systems engineer in Arcata, Calif., and chairman of a committee that develops standards for human thermal comfort for the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers, or Ashrae.

“我们有很多数据,表明人们如果有一定的控制能力的时候,会觉得最舒服,”加利福尼亚州阿卡塔的建筑系统工程师格维伦·帕里亚加(Gwelen Paliaga)说,他还是美国制热、冷藏与空调工程协会(Ashrae)一个下属委员会的主席,该委员会专门制定人体舒适温度的标准。

Of course, for fresh air and comfort, engineers and architects tend to agree the most effective control is being able to open and close the windows. No app required.

当然,为了呼吸新鲜空气和舒适考虑,工程师和建筑师们都同意,最有效的办法还是通过开窗关窗,这可用不着什么手机应用。

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