2011 October 6

The New Straits Times reports an interesting fact – Japan’s energy crisis, following the earthquake and Fukushima nuclear disaster this year, has been partly addressed by changing the country’s dress code!

Replacing the traditional two- or even three-piece suit generally worn by both men and women in Japanese offices, instructions were given to all staff to dress casually as there was not enough energy to allow air-conditioning systems to run in offices. Government departments led the way by having ministers turn up for work in cotton trousers and polo-shirts. Amazingly this may save between 40-60% of the energy costs for an office building, as that is the level of energy required to cool a building to acceptable levels for formal clothing wear.

It’s not unusual to walk into a government building in the UK and find it uncomfortably chilly, as the air conditioning is often set to formal wear and staff can be seen wearing cardigans or fleeces over their clothing because it’s so chilly. Perhaps many organisations could take a leaf out of the Japanese book and consider offering their staff the chance to wear polo-shirts in summer, and jumpers in winter so that cooling and heating systems aren’t put under such strain and company profits aren’t eaten away by controlling the building’s environment unnecessarily. This could save the organisation money, and allow individuals to spend less on clothing by wearing casual items that are more appropriate to the daily weather conditions.

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