Thermal and Acoustic Comfort

Thermal and Acoustic Comfort

We’ve all had this experience: It’s hot, it’s the middle of summer, and it’s hard to concentrate, plus the constant noise of traffic and talking only makes things worse. We get angry easily, spending our time sighing in front of the screen… This kind of situation is more than common, and no matter the season or the intensity of the disruption, your employees will most likely suffer, unless you don’t. ” identify the source of the problem, and deal with it effectively.

 

A-THERMAL COMFORT

The temperature of a workspace can greatly affect your employees by causing one or more problems:

• Irritability

• Lack of concentration

• Reduced dexterity

• Dehydration

• Vulnerability to disease

This can effectively reduce the productivity of your employees and lead to energy costs that you can easily avoid.

Thermal comfort represents the percentage of employees satisfied with their thermal working conditions compared to the total number of employees. So, the closer you get to the “acceptable” average temperature, the more likely you are to satisfy as many people as possible. However, the number displayed on a thermometer in your workspace is far from an accurate and appropriate representation of the warmth felt by your employees.

Here’s why :

PROBLEM 1 :

WALL TEMPERATURES

SOLUTION :

USE OF INSULATION

SOLUTION :

HUMIDITY CONTROL AND JOINT FINISH

As you can see in the figure above, you can turn the heat up all the way, but as long as the walls, floor, and ceiling are cold, the air temperature would not be as efficient. This is often due to the lack of insulation in partitions due to construction materials or techniques.

Wood fiber, mineral wool, and polyurethane injection foam, to name many others, are effective insulating materials and adaptable to your working environment. Versatile, they can be used in any type of partition, and even in furniture (screens against drafts, half-height walls to frame an office space, etc.).

We often forget the joints between the walls for thermal insulation, creating heat loopholes, or areas of cold incrustation. This can compromise the temperature felt inside your spaces and create excess humidity.

PROBLEM 2 :

AIR FLOW

SOLUTION :

NATURAL AND MECHANICAL VENTILATION

SOLUTION :

LAYOUT OF SPACES AND USE OF SCREENS

Mostly felt in cold weather (which does not make it any less important in summer), the movement of air – or its stagnation – can affect our reaction to a certain temperature. For example, drafts are avoided at all costs in cold weather, unlike in summer. In addition, the stagnant air in an enclosed space makes employees more susceptible to illnesses, so it is recommended to keep it fresh.

We can easily ensure natural ventilation of the air by positioning openings high up and close to the ground, applying the principle of the Chimney Effect, (The hot air always moves upwards, and vice versa for the cold air.). Not to mention that a good air conditioning system makes things a lot easier.

A simple review of your space layout can reduce your energy costs. You just need to identify the places with fluctuating temperature, as well as the places subject to particular thermal elements (proximity to air conditioners, central office units), and rearrange your spaces appropriately. Screens can also be positioned around desks exposed to drafts to protect them.

B-ACOUSTIC COMFORT

Acoustic comfort is one of the most disturbing elements of a workspace, according to several studies including one from the University of Berkeley, it can effectively reduce the productivity of your employees by more than 60%.

What is it that causes this dissatisfaction? And how can we fix it?

 

PROBLEMS :

NOISE PROPAGATION BETWEEN SPACES AND SOUND REVERBERATION:

If your employees can clearly hear conversations from another room during a meeting, they will find it difficult to concentrate, just as an employee knows they can’t make even a phone call without being overheard by their coworkers. Noise insulation between partitioned spaces is the number one cause of acoustic discomfort.

SOLUTION :

REVISION OF THE LAYOUT OF SPACES

SOLUTION :

ACOUSTIC SCREENS AND REFLECTORS

SOLUTION :

USE OF INSULATION MATERIALS AND GOOD FINISHING OF JOINTS

One obvious solution is to rearrange your spaces in a smart way. Perhaps the coffee maker, a piece of equipment that often creates a place to meet and discuss, will be better placed away from offices and meeting rooms. Your open-plan offices, too, would be better exploited away from more private spaces. Simple changes can reduce the disruption between your spaces.

Sound doesn’t just propagate through materials, it bounces. This phenomenon, called Reverberation, means that normally tolerable noises can be amplified and made disturbing by the reverberation.

The use of half-height walls, designed to break the sound and prevent it from bouncing, can mitigate the disturbances and make a space more calm and comfortable, not to mention the aesthetic appeal they can bring. Indeed, with bright colors and soft materials, a sound screen can easily become a makeover item for your workspace.

To learn more about the Office makeover, do not hesitate to read our article (link).

Sound propagation can be easily mitigated by using partitions with insulating materials: Mineral wool; Cork; Injection foam …). It is also possible to ensure insulation at the joints between the walls to prevent sound infiltration.