"To ensure greater employee satisfaction and efficiency, and to reduce absences due to sick leave, the key is a healthy indoor environment," states Director of Technology and Development in Caverion Norway, Jens Petter Burud.
See the ideal indoor temperature for maximum productivity at the end of this article.
Burud says that when we build, we need to think about the people who will use the building.
"People are the biggest overhead in office work, and of course the biggest source of revenue. That's why buildings have to be designed for their comfort."
Research into air quality
A comprehensive research project has been conducted by Dr Ragnhild Wiik in collaboration with Caverion.
In terms of employee productivity, the physical indoor environment is as important as the psychosocial. In broad-based research, Dr Wiik has shown that people’s productivity increases by improving air, sound and aesthetic conditions.
Seventeen companies in 12 office buildings with a total of 700 employees participated in the extensive survey. Over 200 questions were posed, and measurements of air quality, temperature and noise were taken; Dr Wiik also made use of her own observations.
“The psychosocial environment has been given a lot of attention for many years, but our findings show that air quality is just as important for workplace productivity,” she says.
A healthy indoor climate need not be expensive
Compared to a company’s labour costs, the investments related to improving the indoor climate are relatively low. In any case, investments will be repaid in a relatively short time due to the increased productivity.
Measuring productivity is not easy, but Dr Wiik has cracked the code, coming up with a formula using a multivariate method commonly used in natural sciences and applying it to the sociological data.
The model gives accurate results. In addition to mapping out productivity, it is possible to determine where improvements could be made and how significant they could be. The method used in the survey provides detailed answers and is of great help to the companies involved.
Avoid increasing the temperature
Dr Wiik states that at low relative air humidity, water is lost through the skin and mucous membranes, causing the body to cool down due to the loss of energy. Increasing the indoor temperature to counter the chilling effect only worsens conditions, as the air will become even drier.
The problem of dry air is greatest in the winter. The best thing to do is reduce the temperature to increase the relative air humidity.
An excessively high temperature causes water to evaporate from the body, cooling us down. That costs us energy as well as drying out the skin, which is conducive to eczema, infections, coughs and wrinkling. Furthermore, the immunity of the mucous membranes is compromised.
ClimaCeil, developed on the basis of research
Based on Dr Wiik's research, Caverion has developed its own ClimaCeil™ concept, referred to as the building’s technical highway.
ClimaCeil™ gathers all the technical installations in one place, including ventilation, electrical and ICT cables, sprinklers and pipes.
Moreover, ClimaCeil™ ensures good indoor air quality, and it can easily be adapted to the building's modules.
“This makes it easy to move, remove, or set up interior walls in a way that results in great savings on alterations that may occur during the course of the building's life-cycle,” says Burud.
21°C (70°F) is best
What is the ideal temperature?
"About 21°C (70°F). Those who feel that this is too low will get a health benefit by putting on more clothing, rather than turning up the temperature. Air and the indoor environment must be thought about holistically," says Dr Wiik.
Fact box: ClimaCeil™
- Installed in 350 buildings in Norway, covering around 2 million square metres of private and public buildings.
- Developed in 1997 by Caverion and subsequently continuously improved.
- Integrates several technical disciplines, forming a multidisciplinary and holistic concept.
- Energy-saving, draught-free, almost-silent ventilation and cooling without using chilled water on the ceiling. This prevents condensation from forming or leaks from the cooling system occurring.
- ClimaCeil has simple regulation of air volume and temperature, which can be remotely controlled online.
- Easy moving and removal of walls and redistribution of floor area between individual and open plan offices.