Ban Open Door Air Conditioning -
Refuse Needless Damage to Health and Planet

Killer Heat
Air Pollution
Sick from Thermal Shock
Irresponsible Energy Use
Greenhouse Gases
Sick from Cold
Worse to Come
Ban it!

Air conditioner running with no front door, employees in long sleeves. Typical store in Mong Kok shopping district in Hong Kong.

On a hot summer day, would you turn on the air conditioner and leave your doors wide open so everyone outside feels the cool air coming from your place? Furthermore, would you set the air conditioner so high that you have to wear a jacket inside - while people are fighting heat stroke outside?

Of course not.

Yet, in shopping districts in Hong Kong and to a lesser extent Hawaii, this is exactly what many retailers are doing. They are competing against each other to entice pedestrians to shop at their stores. And it is a practice that is getting worse with time.

Locally, it is a public health menace. Globally, it needlessly damages our planet and is a great set back to all of the green efforts of ordinary citizens.

In this page, I will describe the extent of the problem, how damaging it is and why you must support me in denouncing excessive air conditioning and call for a ban of its open-door use. This affects you no matter where you live. Don't worry. It is easy. Just click on the Like button.

How Bad is it?

In Hong Kong's shopping districts Mong Kok and Causeway Bay, so much air conditioning is released from stores that some streets are chilled from sidewalk to sidewalk! For a city where summer mean temperatures are above 27C (80.6F) with humidity at 80%, that is dramatic.

These examples are the most noticable because these streets have no motor vehicle traffic to disperse the cold air. It is common in Hong Kong to see shops with their doors open or shops that have no doors at all. But in the shopping districts, there is more of them, and they seem to use stronger air conditioning. There are open door shops throughout the area for several streets. It is very noticable when you walk on the sidewalks.

For reference, the above examples include Lockhart road outside the Sogo department store in Causeway Bay in Hong Kong, and Sai Yeung Choi street in Mong Kok on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong.

New Marketing Technique? Worsening Trend?

Competing jewelers in Mong Kok, Hong Kong.
In both cases, air conditioning with no doors.
Hong Kong locals say it has progressively gotten worse over the past 5 years, along with worsening air pollution, although I have only personally experienced it since the summer 2010.

And in Hawaii, I have witnessed it slowly get progressively worse from almost none at all about 5 years ago. At first it was some convenience stores, then a small shop in a quiet part of an outdoor mall in the shopping district Waikiki. Now, a multi-story apparel shop on the main shopping street Forever 21 keeps its double doors open. See details here. Each new offender seems to expel more and colder air.

It appears that more retailers believe open door air conditioning is an acceptable means to attract shoppers. If true, the trend will only accelerate, as more retailers come under pressure to use the same tactic to compete. Whose neigbourhood is next? Is this coming to a street near you?

Unbelievably Backwards, But True

Sounds messed up, doesn't it? You bet. After living in Causeway Bay in Hong Kong for 7 months, I still cannot believe it is allowed to continue. Every local I talk to dislikes it. Yet, no one is doing anything about it. Perhaps this is due to Hong Kong's traditionally pro-business attitude. Mostly, locals just shake their head in resignation. In the meantime, the government is running TV ads to encourage you to change to energy-efficient light bulbs! And the business community claims their top concern is the environment!

Here are reasons why you should denounce excessive air-conditioning in general and call for a ban on open-door use specifically, no matter where you live.
  1. Killer Heat

    Air conditioning waste heat at 40C to 60C interacts with motor vehicles to form a vicious heating cycle. During a heat wave, the urban center can rise to 10C hotter than outlying areas, killing the old, weak and disadvantaged. In the United States, heat kills more people than all other weather related conditions combined. More here

  2. Local Air Pollution

    Air conditioning waste heat at 40-60C forces cars and buses to use more air conditioning, thus increasing air pollution right in the urban center where people work and live. Air pollution kills thousands around the world every year. Ironically, a Hong Kong law aimed at reducing air pollution ended up killing a bus driver and hospitalizing another with heat stroke. More here

  3. Sick from Thermal and Humidity Shock

    Sudden changes in temperature and humidity is a trigger for serious, widespread conditions like asthma and allergies and makes people more susceptible to germs. By deliberately allowing cold air to escape into public, these merchants are creating a health risk for anyone using the sidewalk. More here

  4. Irresponsible Use of Energy

    If there is one thing that the Fukushima nuclear reactor incident reminds us, it is that we all have a moral duty to ensure that we use energy responsibly. One anti-nuclear campaigner believes responsible energy use in Hong Kong can render the controversial Daya nuclear station unnecessary. More here

  5. Counterproductive

    A single store that opens double doors, wastes the same amount of energy as is saved by 72 homes switching to energy efficient CFLs. How many electric vehicles, solar panels, etc. will the tax payers of the world have to subsidize in order to make up for the damage inflicted on our planet by this unnecessary practice? More here

  6. Greenhouse Gasses

    Air conditioning is the top consumer of electricity in commercial buildings in the summer months. Together with motor vehicle air conditioning, significant volumes of greenhouse gasses are emitted at power plants and in cities. This will accumulate and accelerate global warming. More here

  7. Sick from Being Cold

    In order to replenish the air that's escaped outside, air conditioners must inject larger volumes of cold air. Typically at around 12.7C (55F), it is very difficult to avoid this chilling draft as the volume is so great and outlets seem to be everywhere. One quarter of Hong Kong shoppers complain that shops are too cold. Studies show you really do get sick from being cold. More here

  8. Worse Yet to Come

    If it is true that more and more retailers are seeing open door air conditioning as a legitimate marketing tactic, then we can expect a race to cool ever larger areas of public space by more and more retailers. Therefore, we must stop this hazardous practice as soon as possible. More here

Call for Ban

I hereby ask you to join me in calling for a ban on open-door air conditioning. Without one, more stores will come under pressure to use the same tactic in order to compete for pedestrian traffic. A ban is needed in order to create and maintain an even playing field for retailers.

This would not be the first law in the world governing air conditioning use. More here

What You Can Do

You can make a difference with just a few clicks. Here is how.
  1. Make your voice heard. Register your support for the pages of this website. Click on the Like button below and on other pages.
  2. Spread the word. Share this page with your friends, especially if they include retailers, journalists or legislators. Click on the Send button below to send to specific friends, or send to all your friends by logging into your facebook wall and click Share.
    And if you are a retailer, journalist or legislator, you know what to do ;-)
  3. Share your comments. Do you have personal experience with excessive or open door air conditioning? Did you notice an example in your area or on vacation? Tell us how excessive air conditioning affected you. Who was the offending retailer? Where? Write your comments below.