Many years ago, I shared office space with some colleagues. And while we had a lot of fun there, it usually didn’t end well when it came to temperature or ventilation issues. I bet you’ve all been there.
I know I am a bit odd, and passing 50 didn’t improve it. I already loved cold; higher temperatures could send me into a flush years before my first menopause signals occurred. Unfortunately, most of the others were precisely the opposite. They preferred the higher temperature and didn’t care much for ventilation.
Since those days, a lot has changed! We’re no longer constrained by a ‘one size fits all’ climate control. These days, we can tailor our climate to our personal needs to unleash our inner Supergirl.
Welcome to the world of tailored climate control, a remarkable fusion of science and sensibility, where the temperature, humidity, and air quality are fine-tuned to our individual preferences. This is no longer a figment of imagination but a rapidly evolving reality, transforming how offices function.
And don’t underestimate the contribution to inclusivity. There is no such thing as the average person, so with the ‘one size fits all’ climate control, you’re bound to lose on productivity, positivity and a healthy environment.
No more heat flushes or frozen fingers (depending on who you ask)
Feeling too cold or too hot? Chances are, you’re uncomfortable and less focused on your task. Why would I say that? Studies have shown that when our body is busy trying to regulate its temperature, our cognitive performance can suffer.
The ideal office temperature is around 22-23°C (71-73°F). Speaking of which, mine would be 20°C max. As I said, I’m a bit weird. See the dooming conflict here?
Working within your ideal temperature range, you’ll find your mind free from the distraction of feeling too hot or cold, allowing you to concentrate better.
A smooth, fresh and youthful skin, no parchment for me, thanks!
Humidity isn’t just about how your hair behaves on a summer day. Or how smooth your skin feels, for that matter.
I found that a too-low humidity level gave me headaches, and I was easily irritated. This brings me to the following: Too high or low humidity levels can affect our health and comfort. Low humidity can dry out our skin and mucous membranes, making us more susceptible to respiratory illnesses. On the other hand, high humidity can encourage mould growth and makes you feel suffocated. Striking a balance, typically between 30% and 50%, is essential to foster an environment where you can thrive.
Fresh air with loads of oxygen or stale and polluted air? Tough choice!
Fresh air helps to clear out stale and polluted indoor air, replacing it with oxygen-rich outdoor air. This reduces the concentration of airborne pollutants like dust, allergens, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), leading to a healthier breathing environment.
It also increases oxygen flow to the brain, improving concentration, memory, and overall cognitive function. A well-ventilated office with access to outdoor air can make it easier to think clearly and make decision-making more manageable and efficient.
And finally, the sensation of a gentle breeze and the infusion of fresh air alleviates stress. It induces a feeling of calmness and relaxation, contributing to a more positive and productive work environment. Let’s allow this to sink in for a moment…
Personalizing climate control in the office
So, we’ve established the many advantages of personalised climate control for overall workplace performance and wellbeing.
Great. But how do we make this happen?
Let me give you some examples.
Personal Comfort Systems (PCS)
These individualised climate control systems allow employees to adjust their workstation’s temperature. Be it a heating pad for your chair or a desktop cooling fan, PCS gives the power of comfort back to the individual, ensuring their unique needs are met.
Zoned HVAC systems
One size doesn’t fit all, especially in a large office with different needs in different zones. A zoned HVAC system allows for specific areas of a building to be heated or cooled independently. This way, the sunny side of the building can be cooled down without freezing out the folks on the shaded side.
No more endless debates about the office thermostat settings. Smart thermostats learn from the preferences of the users and adjust accordingly. They can also be controlled remotely and adapted based on the number of people in a room or the time of day. Did I mention that I’m not a fan of open-plan offices?
Personalised climate control as a great asset for your sustainability targets
While the primary focus is personal comfort, these solutions also have a green lining!
Integrating Personal Comfort Systems (PCS), Zoned HVAC Systems, and Smart Thermostats can profoundly impact the environment and energy savings.
Individualised energy consumption with PCS
By allowing your employees to adjust the temperature at their workstations through heating pads or cooling fans, Personal Comfort Systems eliminates the need for full-building heating or cooling. This ensures energy is used only where required, minimising wastage. You’ll be the hero of the hour!
Efficient zone control with zoned HVAC systems and smart thermostats
Those huge office buildings habitually waste energy by heating or cooling areas that don’t need it. By allowing specific areas to be temperature-controlled independently, Zoned HVAC systems ensure you only use energy where required. This targeted approach avoids unnecessary heating or cooling and significantly saves energy.
Smart thermostats can even further energy saving, detecting if a space is unoccupied and automatically lowering the heating or cooling. We know these kinds of solutions for lighting, but now it’s also available for climate control. Massive energy-saving awaits you!
Integration of systems for maximising efficiency
By combining PCS with zoned HVAC systems and smart thermostats, a workplace can achieve a personalised comfort that’s employee-friendly, inclusive, and energy-efficient. The synergistic effect of these technologies ensures that no energy is wasted, adjusting in real-time to the needs of individuals and zones within the building.
Combination with renewable resources or energy recovery systems
You could also consider combining these solutions with renewable resources or systems. Want examples? Deep-dive into geothermal energy or systems like energy recovery ventilation (ERV). The latter is a type of mechanical equipment that features a heat exchanger and a ventilation system to provide controlled ventilation into a building.
Today, our workplaces have transformed beyond recognition. No more one-size-fits-all; it’s about personal empowerment and comfort, tailored just for you.
Even more impressive is that these solutions support our sustainability targets while finally preparing the offices for an inclusive and diverse workforce empowered to perform at their best. It’s a win-win for individuals and the planet, marking a significant stride towards a future where the working environment isn’t just comfortable for the average but personalised to perfection.