Sick Building Syndrome

For those of us that work in an office building, we know how important it is to have access to fresh, clean and comfortable air in the workplace.  It’s where we spend most of our daytime hours during the week – so shouldn’t it be safe?

Unfortunately, poor ventilation, chemical contaminants (like VOCs) and biological contaminants (like mold) have contributed to what’s known as sick building syndrome, or SBS.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency, employees who suffer from SBS have symptoms like coughing, headache, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, irritation to the eyes or throat and trouble concentrating.

These are obviously not the kinds of characteristics that make for productive, efficient and contented workers.  So, besides tearing down the office and building from the ground up, how can SBS be avoided?

A relatively new product, raised access flooring has been proven to help reduce SBS in a number of ways.  Here are 3 ways raised access floors contribute to a healthier work environment:

Lower concentration of airborne contaminants

One of the benefits of raised access flooring is less required duct work.  Less duct work means decreased static pressure, reduced fan power and ultimately – better ventilation.  And because poor ventilation is one of the factors of SBS, according to the EPA, we know that the better the ventilation, the healthier the work environment.  Underfloor air produced by raised access flooring produces lower concentrations of carbon dioxide, off-gassing contaminants and other airborne contaminants like bacteria.

Greater temperature control equals greater comfort

The great thing about underfloor air is the level of control for the employee.  Because the air comes from floor outlets and into the occupied zone, employees can direct air to a specific location, toward or away from them depending on their needs.  This provides fresh air directly to the occupants and maximum comfort, which means they can worry about getting the job done rather than being too hot or cold.

Continuous access to conditioned air

In a traditional HVAC system, conditioned air blows down from above and mixes with used, polluted air that is rising to the ceiling.  With raised access floors, the conditioned air under the floor is delivered directly to the occupied area so that it is fresher and cleaner.  As the clean air rises, it goes directly to the breathing space and carries heat and pollution toward the ceiling.  This stale air, full of contaminants that can cause SBS, dissipates through the return air duct.

Sick Building Syndrome-1

 

The best possible option for companies wishing to reduce indoor air pollution, and therefore create the most efficient and comfortable workplace, is to look for a product that has SCS Indoor Advantage Gold Certification.  Raised access flooring systems, like TecCrete, that hold this certification ensures that the product meets the most rigorous standards for VOC emissions.  All of this boils down to choosing a product that gives your office space the highest level of health.

Healthy workspace mean happy employees.  And happy employees mean a more collaborative and productive environment for all.  In addition to clean air, raised access floors provide many benefits, like cost-efficiency, improved sustainability, increased flexibility and adaptability to change.  Compare the costs and benefits of raised access flooring and conventional systems, and you’ll see how easy it is to choose the right, and the healthy, choice.

About the Author

Natalie McCatty is a professional blogger for Facilitec, a fully integrated firm providing workspace solutions, office cubicle management to clients in Arizona, Washington and across the U.S.  Read more of her work on Facilitec’s blog.

Image sources:  tlc.howstuffworks.com

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