Here’s a clue… it’s not the great view or that someone comes around serving snacks from a trolley. (What do you mean there’s no snack trolley in your office?! OK, there’s not one at Procol HQ either!)
The answer is that you, your colleagues and the folk on that plane are all likely to be breathing the same air over and over again.
The problem is that modern offices are a bit like aeroplanes: they have been designed as almost-airtight boxes. Over the last few decades, the focus in building construction has been to minimise heat loss in order to reduce heating requirements, and thereby reduce corporate carbon footprints.
But, as we wrote in April last year, even prior to the coronavirus pandemic employers had a legal obligation to ensure an adequate supply of fresh air (i.e. not air that has been continually filtered and recirculated) in otherwise-enclosed working environments.
It’s not solely about keeping viruses and other airborne nasties at bay, but also ensuring employees stay focused and think clearly. (A study by the Harvard Chan School of Public Health found that increased CO2 levels – a core by-product of inadequate ventilation – caused a direct and negative impact on cognitive and decision-making skills.)
In our article last year, we set out ways to maximise fresh air in the office using natural or mechanical ventilation (or a combination of the two).
But to square the circle of employee wellbeing and energy efficiency, additional steps may be necessary. Asking people to open some windowswhen it feels a bit stuffy is not the solution – and many office windows cannot be opened in any case!
Take a smarter approach to ventilation
At Procol, we recommend, specify and implement a slightly smarter approach for our clients. And it starts with CO2 monitoring.
In our view, it is odd that the government mandated the introduction of CO2 monitors in all state-funded education settings from September 2021. To be clear, we applaud the introduction of the monitors… we just say why only schools?! What about offices and workplaces (and, arguably, the likes of theatres, leisure, hospitality and retail environments)?
By monitoring CO2 levels, and by connecting monitors to your building’s management or control system (BMS) you gain the ability optimise the delivery of fresh air, rather than just take crude (and potentially more costly) steps to maximise it.
Providing that the right kinds of ventilation systems are in place, fresh air can then be automatically supplied where and when it is needed. This approach ensures heat loss is either minimised or avoided. Some of the systems we specify will gently warm the incoming supply to guard against your colleagues getting air that’s fresh but rather too cold for comfort.
Let us give you some airtime
As with many clients wanting to address these kinds of issues, the first step is to appraise the standard of your current ventilation. We may need to visit to do this, but can often get a good initial idea remotely – just give us a call and we’ll go from there.
We can highlight areas where improvements are required or beneficial, then map out the best ways and means to move forward. And while we can specify, source and install everything you may need, we’re not allied to any single manufacturer. This means we’re free to recommend the precisely the right solutions for your situation.