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  • Andy Bradley

Time to rethink the guidelines???


Look around you at work. What has changed in the last 5 years.....?

Lots of things...!

For starters, we have the technology changes. It's likely that you and your workmates have more technology sat on your desk (or maybe your wearing it on your wrist) than you could ever have imagined....

Seriously, if someone would have told you that you'd be buying a wee rubber bracelet that could track how many hours you slept, you'd think they were nuts....

We communicate in different ways....

5 years ago you already had email and mobile phones but now you have Lync, Yammer, Slack, Facebook, Workplace, Messenger, WhatsApp... In fact, you probably wake up each morning and check at least 3 different social sites to see who's following / watching / stalking or just checking you out....

The biggest change for me is the diversity we have in the office. I now work in an office where it's more or less 50/50%. This is fantastic as the vibe is completely different to the offices I served my time in as a young engineer.

This change in workforce make-up has led me to challenge the way buildings are currently briefed and designed.

For example, the PCA Guide for Offices was released in 2012. This means that it was drafted in 2010/2011. It is written around a traditional office model.

It promotes large thermal zones of of up to 150m2. If you think this through, it actually means that there will be 15 people in that zone and they'll all basically want the same temperature....

In reality, in an office building today, you'd be likely to have 8 or 9 men and 6 or 7 women. This is likely to result in a range of "comfort zones" that the occupants would prefer.

Surely we should be designing our buildings and the HVAC systems to accommodate these smaller comfort zones which are actually tailored for the occupant???

Specifying smaller control zones will actually gain a major energy saving as the systems will be more reactive to the local environment. Recent published data suggests that smaller zones and better control can reduce energy consumption by 40%.

This will mean we need to get a bit smarter with the design of our buildings and HVAC systems. It may even mean we move out of our "VAV comfort zone" and catch up with the rest of the world....

Other changes which need to be enforced relate to fresh air rates and humidity control. There are now detailed studies which show the link between productivity and CO2 levels in an office.

Some of our more enlightened clients have already made this jump and will be rewarded in the uptake of their building stock. As more "tenant reps" enter the market and push for better tenant focused buildings then those owners that have not made the transition will be left behind.

Imagine what happens when major tenants understand the link between comfort conditions and their workforce productivity and absenteeism.....


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