Sick building syndrome, energy and thermal control: A Norwegian cellular vs. A British open plan office

Sally Shahzad, John Brennan, Dimitris Theodossopoulos, Ben Hughes, John Kalautit

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


This study investigated the impact of thermal control on users’ health in two European contexts with high and low levels of individual control over the thermal environment: a Norwegian cellular plan office and a British open plan workplace, respectively. The former provided every user with a personal office and availability of openable windows, blinds, door and the ability to adjust heating and cooling. Air-conditioning was in operation in addition to natural ventilation. In contrast, the British approach presented a uniform thermal environment for all occupants through mainly natural ventilation. Limited control over the openable windows and blinds was provided for occupants seated around the perimeter of the building. The majority of occupants seated further away from the windows had no control over the thermal environment. A field study of thermal comfort was applied with questionnaires, environmental measurements and interviews. Users’ health was higher in the Norwegian practice, while the British practice was much more energy efficient. Respondents of the British office suffered 40% more from sick building symptoms. The follow up interviews confirmed the significance of lack of availability of thermal control on users’ health. A balanced appraisal was made of energy performance and users’ health between the two buildings.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Event5th World sustainability forum - Switzerland, Basel, Switzerland
Duration: 7 Sep 20159 Sep 2015


Conference5th World sustainability forum


  • Thermal comfort
  • Workplace
  • sick building syndrome


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