Environmental Control and Sick Building Syndrome; A Comparison between a Low Carbon Open Plan and a Cellular Plan Workplaces

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This study investigates the effect of environmental control on Sick Building Syndrome (SBS). This is examined by environmental measurement, user health and satisfaction at two workplaces with respectively low and high levels of individual control over the thermal environment. The Anglo-Saxon practice of the open plan workplace is compared to the traditional Scandinavian practice, with greater preponderance of cellular office accommodation. The research will lead to the formulation of specific strategies to enhance opportunities in providing thermal comfort in the workplace. Two case studies are described with respectively low and high provision of individual environmental control. A low energy open plan office in Scotland is selected with natural ventilation, where limited users have access to windows. In contrast, an air conditioned cellular plan office in Norway with excessive use of energy is selected providing every user with control over a window and the ability to adjust heating and cooling. Complimentary quantitative and qualitative methodologies are applied. Particular emphasis is given to Grounded Theory methods. Building users’ health conditions and perception of their thermal environment are recorded through a questionnaire and empiric building performance through measurement of the thermal environment. These traditional techniques are further reinforced with semi-structured interviews to investigate the environmental control. A new visual recording method is applied to analyse the subject at its context qualitatively. Information regarding all users and their environment is applied as colour codes to floorplate layouts. The study examines the significance of environmental control and its affect on Sick Building Syndrome in a comparison between a low carbon open plan and a cellular plan workplace with higher energy consumption. Through this a balanced appraisal can be made of comfort profiles and user’s health between the two benchmarked buildings.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 18 Oct 2013
EventASHRAE IAQ 2013: Environmental Health in Low Energy Buildings - Vancouver, Canada
Duration: 15 Oct 201318 Feb 2014


ConferenceASHRAE IAQ 2013: Environmental Health in Low Energy Buildings

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • thermal comfort
  • adaptive comfort
  • workplace
  • enivronmental
  • office
  • sick building syndrome


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