Productivity where are thou

Improving productivity is one of those subjective areas that rarely attracts much attention, studies show that comfort conditions are critical, is it a key part of the goals for a green building, for productively.

Where the people feel their work environment is too hot, too cold, too dry or too wet, productivity drops, and in Hong Kong it is a real issue since most buildings have no winter heating.

A recent survey, by a software company, supports the notion that your workers are dissatisfaction with environmental conditions, and that in turn impacts the productivity of your business.

More detailed than other studies, this survey covers different genders, and different seasons. One finding is stands out immediately the report states 10% of staff are totally dissatisfied.

Whilst this will not be surprising to Building Services engineers who are taught that engineering systems can only satisfy 80% of the occupants in room, It is time to challenge those empirical tests, when we have better options, underfloor distribution, and smart phone computers in our pockets.

However, visit any modern building and you will still find the room sensors in odd positions, often outside the occupied zone, this strategy only provides the general/average room condition (often near the ceiling) not the conditions where the people are working.

sensors-2

Hotel function rooms have sensors located 6m above the occupants, so the HVAC system is working hard to main the conditions for the ceiling zone not the people zone. Also lighting fittings, hand dryers, etc. which act as localized heaters, installed beneath sensors influencing the room conditions.

by John. A. Herbert

Design vs Performance

Building regulations, Energy codes, and like tend to specify a performance parameters for the design stage, not actual building performance. The building code requires a certain OTTV  (Overall Thermal Transmittance Value) defined by w/sqm, for the building envelope. However, the delivered performance is never measured.

The energy code also requires air conditioning chillers to meet certain catalogue performance targets, however the nominal capacity is tested at steady state standard ARI conditions, unlike real life which suffers hourly variations.

zcb_45_600w

Hong Kong’s Nett Zero Energy building, known locally as the Zero Carbon Building or ZCB has a display which clearly shows (recorded 17 October 2013)  the energy consumption (277,597 kwh) exceeds the energy generated (183,470 kwh). therefore the ZCB has only provided 66% of the total energy demand, and we must assume that no energy exported to the grid.

zcb_46_600w

ABOVE: Watering the lawn at Hong Kong’s ZCB is a low technology affair (17 Oct. 2013)

Setting design performance goal is admirable, but that is only one aspect of building performance, and don’t expect design parameters alone to create high performance, low carbon buildings.

zero carbon building hong kong

ABOVE: ZCB, noon, buildings shadows the PV panels.

Actual data, for example the BEEO Cap 610 demands that every commercial building post EMSD form EE5, that provides facts, and for the first time allows comparison between performance of similar building types.

Energy Efficiency is Not Rocket Science

Hong Kong is a great location, indeed I am fortunate to meet a great number of smart, intelligent people that travel through Hong Kong, this week alone I met a Government Minister, a project developer, and financiers from the energy sector.

Its dark down here

I am equally sure that for all the talk about energy efficiency improvement projects, not many people have actually spent as much time in plant rooms as I. Continue reading