Specifier Review
open plan

Controlling comfort in an open plan office

Whilst there’s no such thing as a typical building, are there standard control strategies that can be adopted for open plan offices? Controls expert Scott McGavin investigates.

I’ve had conversations with customers asking for the best, single controls strategy to adopt for an open plan office but the challenge here is that no one building is the same as any other and the use of energy within even apparently identical buildings will differ depending on the occupants and usage.

So open plan offices can provide one of the most challenging of environments to get right, not only do you have different ages and sexes, you can also have occasions where the office is half empty or crammed to bursting, which places different demands on the HVAC equipment.

Temperature may not be the only thing you need to check as without effective ventilation, any room can quickly become stuffy and stale.

Basic things to focus on

There are however, basic rules that you can follow to ensure you are maximising occupant comfort whilst minimising energy use.

The first thing to look at is the actual physical controls.  How many do you have in the space and are they competing against each other? How much local control do people have over these? Are you monitoring them? And do you have a centralised controller as well?

We’ve all seen situations where one person will turn the air conditioning to high to warm up the place and another will simply turn to down to freezing 5 minutes later.

Not only is this failing to supply comfort to either of these people, it is wasting energy and placing a strain on the HVAC equipment which doesn’t know whether it is coming or going.

The simplest thing to do here is to lock the localised controller so that people can’t change it, or (far better), lock the range that they can play with.  If you allow people to alter the temperature a little, then psychologically, they will feel better as they have been able to change things.

To continue reading the next segment, ‘Room layout‘  visit: https://les.mitsubishielectric.co.uk/the-hub/open-plan-comfort