Air Conditioning at General Assembly

Why Can't We Tone Down the Air Conditioning?

It would save energy and we'd all be less cold

Every year we engage with our convention centers to plan for suitable environmental controls. However, unlike our homes, it’s not as simple as just turning it down to save energy. Convention centers are massive structures, containing millions of cubic feet of air. They also go from being dead empty to being filled with thousands of people within very short time spans. Room configurations are variable, and sometimes cold spots are created. It is difficult to make minute or rapid adjustments (think of parallel parking an aircraft carrier as opposed to a car). Convention centers don’t want to waste money or energy either, but they need to keep the building safe—if it gets too warm inside it is dangerous, more so than if it is chilly in some spots. It is a balancing act, and one that we are proactively involved in. Please trust that we hear you, we don’t want you to be cold, and that we are doing our level best to maintain a safe and comfortable environment for all.

2014 at the Rhode Island Convention Center (RICC) and Dunkin Donuts Center (DDC)

  • We have consulted with the RICC and DDC staff about this specific issue on multiple occasions pre-event as we obviously want to take care of people and be energy efficient.
  • The venues can set temperature anywhere between 68 and 76 degrees.
  • The venues recommend a set point between 70 to 72 degrees for this time of year—it strikes the balance between keeping people comfortable and optimal building efficiency given the typical local weather at this time of year.
  • We’ve agreed to use a set point of 72 degrees to start with. This is because the lower set point tends to anticipate the typical business conference attendee (think business suit). Because we don’t fit that profile and folks tend to dress more cool-casual we’re starting at 72. It’s our best guess given what we think the weather will be and how we anticipate people will behave. It is also the temperature where we anticipate we’ll have to make the least adjustments overall, as changing the temperature up or down frequently is what causes the building to work harder, resulting in greater energy use.
  • The RICC building can adjust zonally, meaning there is a little bit of variation we can introduce if we find large pockets that are being over cooled. The DDC has the least capability for zonal adjustments given it’s one continuous space. So the arena is our biggest concern because it is particularly more difficult to cool where attendance numbers can increase suddenly in a short period of time, which will happen a lot.
  • UUA staff and our greening consultants at MeetGreen will be monitoring room temperatures and working with building staff to maintain suitable air cooling. Please bring layered clothing as temperatures will vary.
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