WELL building standard and indoor air quality

What is the WELL building standard?

WELLBritish employees will tell you how hard they work and they are right; these days we are spending more time in the office than any other EU country except Austria and Germany.  How can the time spent indoors be made more comfortable and agreeable? It’s hard to isolate one sole influence that affects productivity when in fact there are many to consider. Studies have shown that despite an average working day of 8 hours you’re probably only productive for around 3 of those. The WELL Building Standard is a set of best practices and guidelines focused on human health and wellness. The culmination of seven years of evidence-based medical research in partnership with leading scientists, doctors, architects and wellness thought leaders was pioneered by Delos.  WELL is based on medical research on the health and wellness impacts of the buildings we spend most of our time in.  

WELL certification concentrates on performance and requires a ‘pass’ score in these seven categories: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind. With WELL certification awarded at one of three levels: Silver, Gold, and Platinum, it is now much easier to gauge the gaps between comfort, well being and employee work output.

What variables are likely to impact productivity?

There is much research showing the effects of lighting, noise, temperature, and CO2 on our productivity.

Poor lighting makes us sleepy

That lull in energy you’re feeling might not be a sugar crash after all. Don’t blame it all on cake. There is a marked connection between light and productivity amongst other key factors. Daylight and “blue-enriched light bulbs” help employees stay alert by lowering melatonin, the hormone that makes us sleepy. But that’s not the only factor at play here influencing our alertness.

Breath of fresh air

We are less conscientious of air quality, but poor indoor air quality also cuts productivity. Insufficient ventilation concentrates pollutants, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and carbon dioxide (CO2). High CO2 levels have been shown to reduce concentration, attention span, and memory in classrooms.

The adverse effects of poor air quality can be dangerous (see Sick Building Syndrome).

To address these issues companies are recycling indoor air to maintain healthy CO2 levels.

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Noise reduces concentration

Clacking keyboards, co-workers yakking away and phones ringing are some of the common gripes employees give for the reduction in their concentration. World GBC’s 2016 report estimates that productivity dropped by 66% in performance and concentration due to ambient noise distractions.

http://www.worldgbc.org/news-media/building-business-case-health-wellbeing-and-productivity-green-offices

Adjust your thermostat

It’s probably no surprise that with high temperatures (over 32C), productivity declines but the same is true when the temperature decreases below 15C, making people less focused on work and thus less productive. A 2004 study links fewer typing errors and higher productivity when work spaces are warm enough. Let’s not forget about humidity either as that affects perceived temperature and comfort levels so keeping a good level of it is key to maintaining a healthy and productive office environment.

Sensors improve workspace

Our clients use sensors for light, noise, temperature, and CO2, as well as measuring air quality (i.e. particulates) and various gases including potentially harmful ones (e.g. VOC and CO) to monitor the workplace environment and help create healthier surroundings. Pollution in large cities is increasingly problematic and it is vital that HVAC systems successfully filter out pollutants and gases from the outside world so employees can go about their days confident they are not compromising their well being just by going to work. OpenSensors aggregates data from a variety of sensors for the next generation of smart Building Management Systems and with experience in helping companies combine data from new workplace sensors, even interoperating it seamlessly with existing systems is easily done. We also operate the world’s largest repository of air quality data and process over 10 million sensor messages per day – that’s the equivalent of one message each for the entire population of Portugal!  

Conclusion

It has never been easier to measure environmental factors within buildings and analyse the data to give a fully comprehensive overview. Companies can optimise employee well being and efficiency using data from light, noise, temperature, and CO2 sensors with unprecedented ease.  A win win for everyone.

 

BisNow Future of Real Estate Conference

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OpenSensor’s CEO and Founder Yodit Stanton was a guest speaker on a panel for Bisnow’s ‘Future of Real Estate Event’ brought the most innovative & creative industry players.

The uptake of new technologies such as the Internet of Things is accelerating in Commercial Real Estate, with a significant % of landlords, occupiers and contractors taking part in deployments and developing a comprehensive plan of action with regards to integration.

The benefits to the property world, will be seen in terms of workplace efficiencies, energy savings and employee’s wellbeing. It was clear that the savvy technology buyers of smart buildings understood that these benefits would only be delivered by demanding technology providers integrate seamlessly with all products of the built environment.

With the significant traction that sensing technologies are gaining in the marketplace, technology companies will be rightly held to a high standard on interoperability with existing systems.

Next Generation of Workspaces Event

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OpenSensors co-hosted a panel for invited guests on the Future of Workspaces with Cushman & Wakefield. The panel also included Yodit Stanton, CEO of OpenSensors, Uli Blum, Architect at Zaha Hadid and Simon Troup, Founder of Fractalpha. Juliette Morgan, a Partner at Cushman & Wakefield moderated the panel. It was a lively crowd with a sense of urgency – wanting the future now!

Key takeaways

Our panelists gave a view of the current state of data driven workspaces through their different lenses.

Data driven world

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For Uli Blum, Architect at Zaha Hadid the world is increasingly driven by data. It gives us much more understanding of the technical aspects of how people work and are living in our spaces. He shared about different work styles, variations of acoustics across a floor, lighting conditions, proxemics, adjacencies, and connectivity. Zaha Hadid wants to better understand all of these aspects and take into account in design.

Competitive edge

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Simon Troup, Founder of Fractalpha shared how with data you are trying to find that secret sauce that differentiates you from the competition. He gave an example from the financial market where having access to early data before your competition is a huge edge over them.

 

 

IoT traction

yoditYodit Stanton, CEO at OpenSensors shared about the traction she was seeing, the practical side of how companies are deploying sensors and how to get started. Lots of people are putting in desk meeting room footfall sensors and trying to understand how many people are in the space and how to design better. But we also see combining this workspace occupancy data with facilities data from access control and building management systems for a full view of what is happening.

Savvy Building Managers Use Sensors to Reduce Operating Expenses

Sensor networks are emerging as a mission critical method for offices and commercial spaces to save money. Offices and commercial spaces are undergoing a smart transformation by connecting and linking HVAC, lighting, environmental sensors, security, and safety equipment. Building and facilities managers are also installing utilization sensors to manage their spaces more efficiently.

Main benefits of data driven buildings * Operational efficiency * Use data for better design * Better workspace experience for employees

Changing workforce

Recently we helped a company design a prototype of a desk sensor monitoring system. Because so many of their people were working from home they wanted to accurately measure the peak demand during the day to see if they could save 10-20% of their desk space. Goals for the system were: * Monitor desk occupancy anonymously. * Minimize installation and deployment costs: rely on solutions that were simple enough that existing non-expert personnel could be trained to deploy. * Minimize day-to-day maintenance and deployment: this drove strategies for long battery life among others. * Design a deployment process that ensured install team could easily add sensor location metadata to allow for rich reporting and analysis once IoT sensor network was operational. * Limit the IT resources needed for deployment

The phased approach works best

First, we looked at many sensors, evaluating quality, signal-to-noise ratio and power consumption. It’s always a good idea to get a handful of different types of sensors and try them out in a very small scale. We chose an infrared red sensor with good battery life-time and a single LoRa gateway that could support all the floors and provide connection to the cloud.

Next we did a full end-to-end test, where we hooked up 5-10 sensors up completely to a cloud infrastructure all the way through the connectivity gateway. Now we had real data flowing into the infrastructure and could verify that the queries and analytics were feasible. This step just makes sure everything works as planned and you will get all the data that you will need.

Once you’re happy with the proof of concept phase, it is time for the real pilot phase. Instead of having just a handful of working sensors, now you’ll hook up an entire floor or a street or whatever your use case might be. It should be somewhere between thirty, forty, maybe up to a hundred sensors. At this point you can ensure that the sensors work at scale and the gateway can handle the load. Typically we see customers running these for a month or two to get a good feel for how the sensors will perform in a production situation.

After the pilot phase, you should have enough data to verify network performance and your choices for sensors and gateways. Now you can plan the full deployment in detail. It’s been our experience, based on a number of customer installations, that the most successful IoT networks follow these steps in a phased implementation approach.

The technology at the silicon, software, and system level continues to evolve rapidly and our aim is to reduce the time to go live and minimise risk. The internet of things is a nebulous term that includes quite a lot of specialised skillsets such as sensor manufacturing, network design, data analysis, etc.

In order to make projects successful, we have taken the approach of building many hardware, installation and network provider partnerships, and relationships to help customers succeed as opposed to trying to do it all ourselves. We have been working with customers to develop methods to lower the sensor density and in turn lower the cost of projects whilst still getting comparable accuracy.

Contact us if you would like assistance on sensor selection, network design, or planning a proof of concept deployment.