The World Green Building Council (WGBC) recently published a report titled Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in Offices, and in this article we highlight the relevance of underfloor air conditioning systems to a number of the report’s key findings.
Underfloor systems are commonly used in office environments, using the plenum beneath a raised floor as the ventilation zone. Fully conditioned air is fed into the plenum by zonal downflow units (CAM), which is then supplied into the workspace via fan terminal units called fantiles. The fantiles feature integrated controllers where users can personally adjust fan speed and temperature to suit their own comfort. Systems can be configured with underfloor or high level return and can easily integrate with passive or other ventilation systems.
The report clearly states that there is overwhelming evidence that the design of an office affects the health, wellbeing and productivity of its occupants – and with a huge 90% of business operating costs attributed to staff, the potential effects of indoor environment design should be a major concern. Indoor air quality, thermal comfort, noise and interior layouts are all aspects that can be affected by the choice of building services, specifically heating and ventilation design.
The British Council for Offices has indicated that underfloor systems offer higher standards of indoor air quality, dramatic increase in ease of reconfiguration and reduced operating costs. User complaints of draughts and cold feet can be eliminated by adjusting local temperature and fan speed settings, or – in extreme cases – relocating units away from specific desk areas.
Comfort and wellbeing is frequently linked to productivity in office workers. At one major AET project, the facilities manager said that staff comfort was a major consideration in selecting the system. He added: “It is not possible to keep all of the people happy all of the time from a temperature point of view, and in the past we expected to achieve perhaps 80% satisfaction. However with the AET Flexible Space system, a blind study showed that around 98% of users indicated they were satisfied. Quite an amazing performance, really.”
Well-designed indoor environments can be a huge benefit to businesses and the modularity and personal control of AET Flexible Space systems could lead to enhanced health and productivity for workers.