A Healthy Building Is a Smart Building

July 22, 2022
In the last two years, we’ve all become much more aware of our physical surroundings—down to the very air we breathe. The need for healthy buildings that support people’s physical, psychological, and social well-being is more vital than ever. Now, as employees straggle back to office environments and employers grapple with the challenges of instituting hybrid work schemas, EDGE Next continues to pursue new and better ways to optimise the performance of your building and transform it into an office full of wellbeing.

Environment Makes All the Difference

The potential of our office spaces begins with biological fundamentals–basic human needs like air, noise, light, and temperature. It’s essential, in an office environment, to get the basics right.

Throughout the years, studies by Gallup and others have shown that people don’t have the office spaces they need to do their best work. Many workers say they don’t feel their workspace fosters creativity. They say they don’t have the spaces they need to connect and collaborate with their co-workers.

Often the office is a difficult place in which to find focus. Research from UC Irvine has shown that office workers are interrupted once every 11 minute (by noise, by co-workers, by notifications and more) and it can take up to 23 minutes for them to regain focus and return to the task they were engaged with before the disruption.

Noise can reduce work performance, as well. A clanking HVAC system, repetitive sounds from office equipment, group conversations happening near someone’s workspace—all of this noise can result in a productivity loss of 8%, according to a 2017 Smart Building Alliance report.

The right temperature is essential for a productive work environment. In fact, thermal comfort is one of the biggest employee complaints. The location of air vents, internal air velocity, localized over/under heating, and frustration over the inability to control their local environment—all of these issues make people feel uncomfortable. And if they’re uncomfortable, they’re less likely to achieve the ideal state of flow in which they are full of energized focus.

Poor indoor air quality can cause sneezing, coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue, headache, nausea, dizziness, and irritation of the throat, eyes, nose, and skin–all of which decrease a person’s ability to be productive.

In 2021, the Harvard School of Public Health conducted a one-year study with more than 300 office workers around the world. Researchers gave participants a series of cognitive tests, and found that increased concentrations of fine particulate matter and lower ventilation rates produced slower response times and reduced accuracy.

Daylighting and artificial lighting are also important factors—not only in making employees feel comfortable, but in increasing cognitive functioning. Simply put, people who work inside buildings need light to see and perform their tasks. But they also need light to support their biological and emotional needs. Light is the most important influence on our biological clock and circadian rhythm.

The right light at the right time at the right place improves our mood and has the power to energize us, to relax us, to increase alertness and to improve the sleep-wake cycle. For our hormonal wake/sleep rhythm, we need a minimum of 1000 lux in a varied spectrum. Most office buildings today provide just 500 lux.

The Buildings 2030 report from Smart Building Alliance assessed office workers who were exposed to ample daylight (with glare protection from direct sunlight) or higher intensity electric light with more short wavelength (blue) content. These workers reported enhanced alertness, concentration, and mood compared to when they were working under standard office lighting. They also reported better sleep quality during the night.

An Office Full of Wellbeing

People need to feel comfortable at work to perform at their optimum levels. When an office is healthy, employees can be more productive and focused. When an office is smart, employees are more likely to connect and collaborate with co-workers and be inspired both by their work and their place of work.

And employees are aware of this fact. Gen Z and millennials–who now count for nearly half of the full-time workforce–want employers to care about their wellbeing. For the younger generations, wellbeing is the #1 factor they consider as they look for employment.

EDGE Next can help you foster wellbeing. Not just help, but empower you with the information you need to transform your space and enable people (and companies) to thrive.

The world today runs on data, and we are using data to make better buildings. Our platform uses multiple climate sensors and sources to pinpoint the things you can improve in your building to increase overall wellbeing. (Think of identifying spaces that need a little tweak in temperature, or a notification when the air needs refreshment.)

We connect our IoT sensor suite to your Building Management System, and place additional sensors to collect data on energy performance, indoor conditions, and occupancy. We then select the most valuable data points and analyse the correlation between them to offer insights and performance measures that you can use to make your building smarter, healthier, and more sustainable.

EDGE Next shows the people in the building that it’s a safe and healthy place–in real time. If conditions are not optimal or not healthy, we notify you of that information, as well, so you can take the action/s needed to rectify it.

You can also use EDGE Next data to achieve a WELL certification for your building. WELL are the pioneers and experts in evidenced based certifications for healthy buildings.

In this new post-pandemic world, we can work together to reimagine the office as a healthier and more humane environment for everyone.

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