Every day new findings show how workplace environments have a direct impact on productivity, motivation, general health and wellbeing. However, this isn’t reserved only for those of age working the 9-5, but also applies to thousands of students across the nation scribbling or tapping away in dimly-lit lecture theatres for hours, weeks and even years on end.
Indoor environments can be extremely complex and with 90% of our time being spent indoors, with half of that at a place of work or study, it’s never been more important to ensure air quality, temperature and humidity control are at the top of the list of priorities.
Indoor environments are often littered with contaminants in gas and particle form and the potential negative impacts on occupants are regularly overlooked. Contaminants can come from things such as machines, carpets, cleaning products, smoke, perfumes, fungi, damp, mould and other bacteria to name but a few. So managing quality of air is not only essential, but critical.
To add to this challenge, universities have a uniquely tough environment to manage. Affected by high volumes of human and equipment traffic, large amounts of contaminants being moved around, and windows and doors being opened and shut regularly means most universities must ensure a consistent level of air quality and comfort for both staff and students alike, at all times of year, no matter what the weather.
Managing temperatures in learning spaces
Universities must manage temperatures in lecture theatres where many students, sometimes hundreds even are sitting, often with projectors, laptops, phones, and tablets all giving off heat. The average resting person can give off anything between 100w and 120w of energy.
So, what happens when 50 people suddenly enter a meeting room, hall, auditorium or lecture theatre? What happens when we combine all that body heat with all the heat from all the devices in that room? Well, it is not unreasonable to suggest that dependent upon the size of the theatre and the volume of air within it, if this environment is not managed correctly, it won’t be long before the temperature makes everyone feel uncomfortable, drowsy and sleepy. It can even cause people to faint. It becomes distractive, and will impact attention span, productivity and even quality of work.
But don’t just take our word for it; research has proven it. According to a Harvard University study ‘The Impact of Green Buildings on Cognitive Function’*, improved indoor environmental quality doubles participants scores in cognitive function tests. The study found that cognitive performance scores averaged 101% higher in green building environments with enhanced ventilation than those compared to a conventional building environment.
However, temperature control in the working environment is not just important for students, but for staff retention and productivity, too. The Harvard University report states that employees in green certified buildings had 26% higher cognitive function test scores than those in similarly high-performing university buildings that were not green-certified. Among the findings, participants had 73% higher crisis response scores, 44% higher applied activity levels, 38% higher focused activity levels, and 31% higher strategic thinking scores.
In addition, research conducted by the UK Green Building Council quantified the effect of light, ventilation and outdoor views on productivity, found staff experience an 11% increase due to better ventilation**. It also states that thermal comfort, noise, workspace and the use of biophilia has a material effect on output, wellbeing and, ultimately, the ability to attract and retain the best staff.
If an HVAC investment driver isn’t factored into your university’s long-term estate plan, you’re missing a trick. At TCUK Ltd our vision is to be the UK’s No1 supplier of the most technologically innovative, energy efficient and environmentally friendly Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning solutions in the market. TCUK can support universities with project system designs to maximise energy efficiency across multiple estates to support reduction of cost and future proof buildings for tomorrow.
TCUK Ltd is proud to support universities by delivering CPD programme to help drive and grow industry knowledge within the higher education sector. Take a look at how we delivered an outstanding indoor environment for Solent University’s new World Class Sports Complex by visiting www.toshiba-aircon.co.uk
TCUK Ltd, Three leading brands, one HVAC Solution
Tel: 01372 220 220
* Study by Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Center for Health and the Global Environment, SUNY Upstate Medical University and Syracuse University. Primary support for the study came from United Technologies (NYSE: UTX) and its UTC Climate, Controls & Security business.
** World Green Building Council Report – ‘Health, Wellbeing & Productivity in Offices’