Constructing Excellence supports new work to provide healthier happier offices

We spend 90% of our lives in buildings. Little wonder then, that the types of buildings we occupy and the conditions maintained within them, have a significant impact on our health, well-being and productivity. A new project underway with backing from the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK1 and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)2, aims to identify the best indoor conditions for enhancing people productivity and to deliver those indoor conditions at lowest energy consumption.

Staff costs can account for 90% of overheads and so even small improvements in productivity are highly prized. The World Green Building Council reports that productivity improvements of 8% – 10% can be achieved through better air quality3. In many cases, energy efficient buildings are also those that enhance productivity, often as a by-product of daylighting and natural ventilation. Recent findings suggest that green building conditions can improve cognitive functioning by 61%4. However, achieving a low carbon, productive building is complex, as there are challenges in trying to attain both these goals, particularly in existing buildings.

Oxfordshire based building performance consultancy, LCMB will lead the project team, with the ultimate aim of commercialising and bringing to market new services to deliver more productive, lower carbon buildings.

Sean Brook, Project Leader from LCMB5 comments, “The link between Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) and productivity is proven. Our challenge is to achieve this in existing buildings which are not always designed to deliver this performance. This project aims to test the relationship in the real world, quantify the gain and develop systems to consistently deliver the right IEQ at lowest energy”.

The Whole Life Performance Plus (WLP+) project brings together a consortium of leading experts in building performance, property development and facilities management. The Low Carbon Building Group6 of Oxford Brookes University will be the academic lead on the project and provide technical expertise for developing the solution and service offering.

Professor Rajat Gupta, Principal Investigator from LCB group said, “Our research on building performance evaluation (BPE) of sustainable buildings has shown that self-reported productivity can be high in indoor environments with good IEQ. This project will build on the BPE research to develop new knowledge and solutions to maximise staff productivity in existing buildings, which also have comfortable environment’s to work in, while minimising energy use and fuel costs”.

The WLP+ solutions will be tested in office buildings managed by Argent and EMCOR UK and those owned and occupied by King’s College London.

“EMCOR UK is ideally placed to make a difference in this area and we are thrilled to be able to share our expertise and to be involved in such an exciting project. We work with some of the UK’s leading organisations, across a wide variety of sectors, and look forward to continuing to make our customers’ lives easier by promoting sustainability, employee health, well-being, and welfare.” EMCOR UK CEO, Keith Chanter.

Throughout the project, findings will be disseminated by the British Council for Offices (BCO) and Constructing Excellence (CE).

“We’re delighted to support this project which promises to increase our knowledge in this area. In doing so, it has the potential to create something quite significant; happier, healthier and more productive workplaces.” Jenny MacDonnell, Director, Research and Policy, British Council for Offices.

To find out more about this project please contact Sean Brook on t: 01295 722823, e: sean@lcmb.co.uk or tom@lcmb.co.uk

Notes

  1. Innovate UK is the UK’s innovation agency. It works with people, companies and partner organisations to find and drive the science and technology innovations that will grow the UK economy. For further information visit www.innovateuk.gov.uk
  2. EPSRC. The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council is the UK’s main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences. www.epsrc.ac.uk
  3. Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in Offices, World Green Building Council, Sept 2014
  4. Associations of Cognitive Function Scores with Carbon Dioxide, Ventilation, and Volatile Organic Compound Exposures in Office Workers: A Controlled Exposure Study of Green and Conventional Office Environments, Joseph G. Allen, Piers MacNaughton, Usha Satish, Suresh Santanam, Jose Vallarino, and John D. Spengler, Oct 2015
  5. LCMB are an Oxfordshire building performance consultancy who work with their clients to improve the performance of their buildings by making them more financially and environmentally sustainable. Further details are available by contacting John O’Brien, Managing Director on t: 01295 722823, e: john@lcmb.co.uk or www.lcmb.co.uk
  6. The Low Carbon Building Group of the Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development (OISD) at Oxford Brookes University has an international profile in the field of building performance evaluation and post-occupancy feedback. For more information, please visit: http://architecture.brookes.ac.uk/research/lowcarbonbuilding/index.html or contact Professor Rajat Gupta, rgupta@brookes.ac.uk, 01865 484049