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Optimizing building temperatures to drive value

Where should our organizational optimization focus be? Designing efficient control systems drives quantifiable operational savings, which is vital to achieving overall operational goals for an organization. Heating and air conditioning can account for nearly half of the energy consumption of a building. This is undoubtedly an important area of focus to drive efficiency and cost savings.

However there is another budget line which, while harder to track, can provide greater value to the overall budget of an organization when considered in conjunction with energy efficiency. This is focusing on occupant health and productivity.

In a typical business, the budget amount spent on building occupants can be 100 times greater than that spent on building operations. Prioritizing occupant health and productivity can drive significant value to the bottom line of an organization, and create a better work environment for every occupant.

There are many factors which impact the health and productivity of employees. One significant influence is building temperatures.

GENERALLY AGREEABLE TEMPERATURES.

At the end of the day, optimal temperatures are a subjective opinion. But research has shown that maintaining temperatures between 72 and 77 degrees drives the highest levels of employee productivity while reducing negative occupant health impacts.

There are two types of productivity losses by occupants when temperatures are outside of the optimal range. There is reduced production time, and there is reduced accuracy of the work done.

  • Reduced Productive time
    Reduced productive time may be time spent either trying to get comfortable or spent frustrated by the inability to do so. Lost productive time may also be due to lethargy caused to suboptimal temperatures. There are many physical effects when building temperatures are either too high or too low. Many of those physical effects drive reduced productivity.
  • Reduced Accuracy
    Activity does not always mean accuracy. The ability for a building occupant to remain focused on a task allows them to prioritize accuracy in their work. Studies have shown that when building temperatures are increased from 68 degrees to 77 degrees, the number of errors made decreases by as much as 44%.

Focusing on maintaining optimal temperatures not only increases the productive time of building occupants, but it ensures that there work is done more accurately.

POTENTIAL HEALTH IMPACTS

Thermal comfort is a major contributor to perceptions of health in building occupants. Studies have shown that temperatures outside of the optimal range can increase health risks like mold, bacteria, and asthma as well as other threats. When temperatures are above or below the optimal range, health issues, whether perceived or real, increase. These issues drive diminished productivity of building occupants and also drive increased absenteeism among employees.

Maintaining temperatures between 72 and 77 degrees have been shown to decrease absenteeism among building occupants.

When defining the net value of building operation, it is important that attention be given to how focused and productive building occupants will be at optimal room temperatures. A single optimal temperature will never be agreed upon by every occupant, but temperatures between 72 and 77 degrees have shown to be agreeable to the vast majority of building occupants in each study. This temperature range has also driven the highest levels of consistent productivity and accuracy by building occupants.

While energy efficiency is vitally important to maintaining a reasonable operating budget, energy efficiency alone should not be the definer of room temperatures when designing and programming a control system.

Our team of engineers and system specialists at CM3 Building Solutions are experts at designing and deploying efficient Building Control Systems which prioritize occupant productivity.

Contact CM3 today to discuss how we can help you get the most out of both your building and your team.

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