In previous blogs we've looked at the role commercial buildings play in creating an environment which supports occupiers' wellbeing and productivity. A recent study has now found that CO2 levels in offices have a direct impact on workers' cognitive functions. The issue has become more than just a question of comfort – a workforce subjected to poor air quality can have a detrimental effect on wellbeing and ultimately business output.
The UK study, backed by facilities management company EMCOR, was a two-year initiative conducted by Oxford Brookes University and LCMB Building Performance. Supported by Innovate UK, a government body created to boost innovation in the UK economy, the research examined the effects on workers of varying CO2 levels in an office environment.
The findings reveal that staff performance levels decline when 'CO2 is high and temperatures are too warm or cold'. In fact, in one test, participants worked up to 60% faster when working in an environment with lower CO2 concentrations. Speed wasn't the only gauge used during the experiment: other key factors for business success were also put under the spotlight. According to the report, when CO2 levels rise, reaction times become slower, decision making is poor, and staff suffer from tiredness. All of these aspects determine how productive your team will be.
Facilities Managers now understand that tenants want to find buildings that will enhance their business by boosting occupants' wellbeing rather than undermining their potential. Ensuring better air quality not only comes down to effective HVAC systems but also the connectivity of your building.
With more of the UK workforce working longer hours with less breaks, the importance of creating the right environment to encourage an improved sense of wellbeing has never been more pressing. But it's more than simply opening a window or taking a walk outside for lunch. Most modern commercial properties create sealed environments dependent on central air conditioning systems. However, one setting certainly doesn't suit all. Usage within any office can fluctuate hour to hour and day to day. Some rooms will be busy, others not. Subsequently, CO2 levels will fluctuate accordingly. Smart monitoring via a connective system that can control and adapt the environment is the answer.
The development of IoT (Internet of Things) sensors on Air Handling Units offers facilities managers automated control technology that measures, detects and responds to current conditions as and when needed. Adjustments can be made using real-time data regarding temperature, humidity, CO2 levels and air flow. Not only does this help to increase the working conditions of occupiers but also ensures the efficient use of energy and resources.
Consider the fact that outdoors CO2 levels are normally between 250 to 500 parts per million, and some office meeting rooms can reach measurements of up 3000ppm, and it's not hard to see why workers struggle to concentrate. Smarter, connected maintenance not only boosts occupant productivity but also adds long-term value to your facility.
Here at Sowga, we advise our clients on the latest systems to ensure their buildings are creating the right environment for those inside. Talk to our experts about how you can improve your air quality.
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