Don’t underestimate the impact of employee comfort or employee productivity in your office building

This audio was created using Microsoft Azure Speech Services

In the first blog of this series, I discussed how integrated room controllers can substantially reduce energy waste and pay for themselves with a fast ROI. In that post, I explained that an application-specific room controller is a smarter, more capable successor to the standard wall HVAC thermostat and can be integrated to your building management system (BMS) for peak building efficiency. Thanks to occupancy sensors, it can tell if people are present and adjust heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) accordingly. With wireless connectivity, retrofitting an office building with integrated room controllers is relatively easy. And the payback of such a HVAC retrofit can be energy savings as high as 50%. Wow, that was one of the more informative recaps I’ve given to date!

Now, I hope I have captured your attention. If so, let me tell you about the added benefit. This is the benefit that people don’t intuitively consider. It is possible to do even more than 50%!  That’s right…even better! By executing this integrated approach, you can increase comfort levels significantly, which leads to improved employee productivity. Have you ever thought – really thought – about how much that adds up? Read on…

Before diving into employee productivity, let’s take a quick look at the comfort aspects. An advanced room controller, such as the SE8000 Series from Schneider Electric, helps keep a single room at the right temperature, adjusting as need be to maximize energy savings. However, alone it can’t do the same for other situations, such as when an entire wing of a building is temporarily vacant. This is where the integration piece comes into play. By connecting your room controller to your building management system (BMS), you enable deep, energy-saving setbacks when rooms are going to be empty a long time. And, you improve the overall operations of your building without any extra effort. Pretty cool combo!  An integrated system can also help make sure a room is at the right temperature when employees arrive. For instance, it can start heating rooms up (or cooling them down depending on where you are located) before staff comes in. A good start to an employee’s day makes for a productive day. One shouldn’t underestimate the power in employee satisfaction.

A BMS also makes it easier to do preventive maintenance. That’s because it can track how hard a particular HVAC system is working, allowing troublesome trends to be spotted early. This leads to reduced maintenance costs…a pain point for any facility manager.

Ok, now I know what some of you are thinking, “Sure, people will be more comfortable. But, enough to make a difference? Prove it.”

How about this? A U.S. General Services Administration study concluded that environmentally friendly buildings had a 27% higher rate of occupant satisfaction. In laboratory studies, speed and accuracy at tasks such as typing, addition, proof reading, paragraph completion, reading comprehension, and creative thinking improved in buildings with high performance ventilation, thermal control, and lighting control environments. It’s not rocket science that these same concepts can be applied across all buildings … across your office building. Think about it. Isn’t it worth considering?

Finally, what that translates to in terms of revenue depends upon the specific tasks and the nature of the business. In the case of one study looking at what this means for performance in a bank, the productivity improvement came to a value of more than $450,000 per employee. Seem high? Well, maybe it’s not the norm. But…it did happen so it is possible. Just think of the possibilities for you. They certainly aren’t insignificant.

Now, as they say in the ads, your mileage may vary. But when combined with the energy savings possible with a BMS, the productivity boost makes the payback even faster.

To realize these gains, you’ll need integrated room controllers equipped with occupancy sensors. You’ll also need a BMS and then decide if wired or wireless communication is right for you. For either, it’s best to go with a standard protocol, such as ZigBee or EnOcean for wireless and BACnet or LonWorks for wired. Take a moment to consider wireless technology as it really is changing the playing field for building owners. Finally, an easily scalable BMS is a must because that allows it to start small and expand as the project grows.

Of course, make sure you work with a vendor with a proven track record and expertise in office buildings. That’ll help ensure success. Also, a vendor with expertise can help identify and leverage funding options, which will increase the return-on-investment.

For additional info detailing how more comfortable employees are more productive, check out our white paper “How Integrated Room Controllers Reduce Office Energy Cost and Boost Worker Productivity.”

There you have it: a fast payback from integrated room controllers due to energy savings and productivity improvements. What do you think? Interested in learning more? Let’s talk – share your thoughts with me in the comments below.

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  • This was a great read and very topical to some current customer concerns as the learn their new building they moved into a few months back.

    I’m continually coaching them that these are way more than a programmable thermostat!

  • Jaimie Giarrusso

    8 years ago

    Hi Brett, thanks so much for your reply. Indeed, the Schneider thermostats are more than your typical programmable thermostat and can really help alleviate the challenges that building managers (and occupants) face. Additionally, they drive ROI in so many areas (energy efficiency, building optimization, staff productivity, etc.). Certainly an investment worth considering for both retrofits & new builds. Thanks again for your thoughts!

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