The minimum summer design air temperature for offices should be raised by two degrees to reduce energy used in air conditioning according to member organisation The British Council for Offices.

At its annual conference in Edinburgh this week, the BCO launched the latest addition of its Guide to Specification, which recommended that summer design temperatures in air-conditioned offices should rise from 22C to 24C. The change is not thought to be significant enough to affect comfort or reduce productivity.

The guide also takes into account new figures from the BCO, which show that the average density of workplaces has increased by 40% since 1997. The average office density back then was 16.6sqm per workplace compared to 11.8sqm today. In response the BCO has changed the recommended occupancy densities to 8-13sqm per workplace from 12-17sqm in its 2005 Specification.

However, flexible working and technological developments mean that the sharp increase in workplace density does not mean that offices are becoming more crowded. According to the BCO, office space is now being used more efficiently to allow more people to fit into the same space.

Richard Kauntze, chief executive of the BCO, said: "It is a misconception that higher office densities mean we are all packed in like sardines. The increase in density has come about because, on the whole, we are working differently and using space more effectively. The cellular, inflexible offices of the 70s and early 80s have gradually been replaced by open-plan, team-orientated environments with a range of facilities from kitchens to gyms".