Winter is in full swing and ice storms are sweeping across large portions of the US. As thermostats struggle to keep up with poorly insulated buildings, many employees find themselves shivering at work. A 2009 survey by the International Facility Management Association found that 60% of participants kept a personal blanket at their desk.
Being cold at work is more than just an inconvenience – it affects your bottom line. A 2004 Cornell University study found a correlation between temperature and typing performance. By raising temperatures from 68˚F to 77˚F, typing errors fell by 44% and typing output jumped by 150%. They estimated that raising the temperature to a comfortable thermal zone could save employees $2 per worker, per hour. For many companies, that money is being lost on every employee, every hour of every business day – all winter long.
A comfortable building extends beyond temperature. A healthy balance of CO2 is also essential in maintaining an optimal environment. The effects of a healthy CO2 balance are measurable, as demonstrated in a 2015 study by the Harvard Center for Health and the Global Environment. Participants spent six full work days in an environmentally-controlled office space, where they were exposed to conditions representative of conventional office buildings in the US (VOC – volatile organic compound – levels measuring at 500 ppm, or parts per million), as well as green buildings with ‘enhanced ventilation’ (VOC levels reduced to 50 ppm). At the end of each day, participants were administered a cognitive test. In buildings with enhanced green conditions, results were 101% higher! So as shown, keeping employees comfortable is more than a luxury, it affects your bottom line.
Ordinary HVAC systems are set up for a static set of conditions. Your building, on the other hand, is dynamic. In the morning, rooms facing east are warmed by the sunrise – but by the afternoon, temperatures have shifted to the western side. But the sun isn’t the only factor. Your building is being constantly affected by the weather. Cloud coverage, air fronts, passing storms – these are ever-changing conditions that work to keep you on your feet adjusting the thermostat, trying to achieve balance. If only there were a way to predict such things…
Welcome to the power of the cloud! 75F is an intelligent solution that expects and plans for these daily changes. It looks at weather forecasts, room occupancy and historical data to create an ideal algorithm. Data is continuously transmitted to the cloud and crunched to determine a control strategy to maintain ideal airflow, before temperature imbalances and thermostat wars occur. We call it Dynamic Airflow Balancing.
What about air quality? Traditional demand control ventilation (DCV) and enthalpy economizer solutions have one major issue: economizers receive their data from a module installed on the rooftop unit. Should that module fail, the economizer fails. Using cloud computing offers two advantages – first, live weather feeds allow you to obtain data without relying on inaccurate readings. Second, sensors inside the building monitor CO2, NO2 and CO levels. Using these readings, the system provides optimal air quality while offering free cooling when conditions are right – a solution we call Outside Air Optimization.
Data shows Dynamic Airflow Balancing and Outside Air Optimization can save anywhere from 30-70% in HVAC energy usage. With so many technological advancements available, it’s surprising there aren’t more companies developing solutions which tackle efficiency and wellness simultaneously. The HVAC industry has largely fallen behind and it’s up to property owners, facility managers and sustainability officers to demand more from their providers! Customers and employees deserve it; your bottom line does too.
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