A pioneering research project that measured the impact of the indoor working environment on the health and wellbeing of its occupants has completed its final stage. The one-year project was undertaken by building energy simulation firm arbnco in partnership with researchers from the University of Strathclyde, and collected data from commercial properties in New York, London and Glasgow.
Arbnco, formerly known as CO2 Estates, offers a software platform for delivering commercial real estate improvement analysis. Following project completion, arbnco has launched a service that provides real-time monitoring of the effects of the indoor working environment on health and wellbeing. It will enable organisations to understand how the quality of their real estate affects employee satisfaction and productivity.
It is also expected to help alleviate ‘sick building syndrome’, defined by the NHS as unexplained symptoms an individual gets while working/living in a building, usually an office. Sick building syndrome can affect occupants within all types of buildings, regardless of how new or well-designed they are.
The service will provide ubiquitous monitoring of indoor environmental conditions and engage with occupants to gather data on how the building is actually performing. Factors such as ventilation, natural light, and temperature will be taken into account.
Alongside these physical quantities, the software will also use real-time alerts, long-term statistics, and intelligent reporting to measure the performance of buildings in human terms, and provide regular reports to facilities managers and HR personnel.
This mixture of quantitative and qualitative analyses will help organisations deploy improvements across a property portfolio, and bring a new level of detail in measurement and analytics to buildings that have previously been managed without proper feedback and assessment.
The arbn well software platform, due to be launched soon, will collect data from high-quality sensors along with feedback from occupants, and present this using intuitive graphical representations such as heat maps and graphs.
TH Real Estate, a large real estate investment manager responsible for hundreds of properties globally, took part in the pilot project.
Abigail Dean, head of sustainability at TH Real Estate, explained: “The relationship between health and wellbeing and property is an essential consideration for us. As it becomes increasingly important to tenants, we want to find ways to address that need. Working with arbn well is allowing us to identify what commercial properties should strive for, in order to deliver optimum health, happiness and wellbeing of staff.”
“Currently, there is very little we can do to measure how well our portfolio is performing in terms of providing a healthy environment. We want to be able to assess our properties to understand what steps we can take to improve any areas that need it.”
Parag Rastogi, lead building physicist at arbnco, commented: “Not only is a comfortable office environment good for the wellbeing of staff, it has been demonstrated in numerous studies to have an intuitive link to alertness and performance. arbn well will help organisations improve their buildings for their occupants.
“Every business wants healthy, happy employees. Even with a well-designed building, design intent has very little influence on how a building actually performs, especially in terms of employee wellbeing. We will work with clients to tailor the data feeds and responses to their needs. There is the potential to collect a lot of data – we will focus on making sense of it.”