Coming Soon … Thermal Comfort Benefits

A new version of Autocase for Buildings is in beta testing and over the next few posts we’ll share some of the features you can expect to see come October.

Midsummer in most offices is a battle over control of the thermostat. Shawls and sweaters are draped over shivering shoulders while others with shorts and T-shirts swelter and gasp. There is an optimum temperature for worker productivity and health and there is little doubt that the best temperature varies by sex and also individual.

Thermal comfort in buildings is tough to negotiate but literature is showing that the productivity and health benefits are large if done right.

Productivity & Health Benefits of Thermal Comfort

The new Autocase for Buildings will put a dollar value on the productivity and health benefits of thermal comfort.

The estimate we use comes from a meta-analysis of 24 studies conducted by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The studies analysed are a combination of office and laboratory tests. Indoor temperatures are changed, holding other indoor environment factors constant, and seeing its effect on objective measures of productivity, such as proof-reading, text typing, and simple arithmetic operations.

For the health benefit we use the change in prevalence rates of illness symptoms (such as dry skin, stuffy or runny nose, and itchy throat) for a change in indoor temperature and the average symptom prevalence rates. Each symptom is monetized using the social cost to the individual and to society attached to each symptom in the model, including the cost of seeing a doctor, and the cost of medication.

The bigger concept to thermal comfort is Indoor Environmental Quality. For example Autocase’s Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) model includes ventilation as well as thermal comfort. We have written about IEQ before. IEQ is “the quality of a building’s environment in relation to the health and well-being of those who occupy space within it.” We have developed a method to monetizing the intangible benefits to employees from investing in the improved indoor environmental quality of a work space. We’ll tell you about other aspects of IEQ in later posts.

Buildings are  built to shelter their occupants not to expose them to uncomfortable swings in temperature. Making building occupants comfortable makes them healthier and more productive. Now you can make the case for these investments with Autocase.

Autocase: Making the business case for high performing and sustainable buildings.

Autocase for Buildings is a software tool that models the environmental and social dollar values of building designs and, together with financial costs, evaluates their net, triple bottom line (TBL) benefit over the life of a project using a rigorous cost-benefit analysis (CBA) framework. With Autocase, the cost and time required to compare design alternatives at any stage of a project is a fraction of today’s custom studies. As a result, design firms can easily evaluate and justify different approaches and, in so doing, contribute to the future economic, social, and environmental success of every project.

For more information about how TBL-CBA would assist your high performing and sustainable building project, go to www.autocase.wpengine.com

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