In the twenty or thirty years since architects began incorporating raised access flooring (RAF) into their building designs, occupants of these spaces have been able to enjoy an incredible number of benefits. With nearly 25,000 K Sq.m. of this flooring type now deployed worldwide, building owners and tenants alike have started taking advantage of dramatic gains in energy savings, occupant comfort, and design flexibility.
But regardless of the building or use type, the benefits you’ll see from your raised access floors depend on how it’s used. Is your business configured to take full advantage? Let’s examine four signs suggesting you may be missing out on some of the key features and benefits of this revolutionary system.
1. You’re Not Using Underfloor Air Distribution (UFAD)
There’s little doubt that one of the main advantages of raised access floors is that it allows you to adopt an underfloor air distribution system (UFAD) to condition and ventilate your environment. Not only will you see lower energy bills thanks to 30% less energy requirements, you’ll gain 20% better ventilation effectiveness for dramatically improved indoor air quality and occupant thermal comfort.
Operationally, because it’s routed through a relatively obstruction-free underfloor plenum, UFAD requires significantly less (often as much as 75%) ductwork. Less ductwork means less air resistance that needs to be overcome, so your blower fans don’t need to be as powerful. And from a first-cost perspective, the requirements for fewer building materials and easier installation access means you’ll see a 15% faster build and that it’ll cost far less to implement compared to an overhead system.
Occupants will enjoy a much more comfortable and healthier environment. UFAD is an air displacement system rather than the air-circulation approach used by traditional overhead systems. Since air is introduced into a room at floor level and takes advantage of natural convective rising currents to be collected by a return grille at ceiling height, it has the effect of forcing suspended particles up and away from occupants, resulting in cleaner air.
2. You Haven’t Achieved WELL Certification
The occupant comfort and health benefits of underfloor air distribution are an attractive feature when marketing your building to prospective tenants. Businesses in the U.S. are investing to the tune of $8 billion annually in employee wellness as a strategic priority both to improve productivity and to retain talent for the long term. And there’s no better way to harness the health benefits of UFAD and demonstrate that your building promises a healthy work environment than a WELL Certification.
Since 2012, the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) has evaluated buildings based on how well they support the health and wellbeing of occupants. Designed to measure such factors as air quality, natural light availability, water quality, freedom of movement, sound, and thermal comfort, the WELL standard is a sought-after recognition that a building will support employee and occupant comfort.
With a UFAD system in place, you’ll gain a competitive edge over other commercial spaces. Obtaining and using your WELL certification in your marketing efforts will dramatically improve your ability to attract and retain tenants.
3. Inefficient Placement of Environmental Controls
A major feature of raised access floors is the ability to use specialty floor panels to customize your layout for your needs. From custom grilles and fan terminal units to individual thermostats, raised floor panels provide unmatched opportunities to maximize occupant comfort.
Frequent hot or cold zones can occur if your ventilation and thermal controls aren’t placed appropriately. UFAD gives occupants thermal control over their immediate surroundings; however, having an insufficient , numbers of control units in place to match the number of occupants can negatively affect comfort levels.
If you have a UFAD/raised access floor system in place, ensure that your environmental controls are placed correctly and in sufficient numbers to accommodate the number of occupants in your space.
4. Missed Opportunities to Upgrade Infrastructure
Another benefit of raised access floors is that, much like HVAC ductwork, wiring and cabling can be significantly reduced. Underfloor plenum voids usually feature far fewer obstructions, so you can easily run wires and cables directly from point to point. Not only will you save money on the cost of wiring, you’ll have the flexibility to upgrade your existing technology and security infrastructure so that it meets your evolving needs.
Offices that are expanding their operations and adding new personnel often find themselves limited by factors such as lack of available power sources or communications connectivity. Because of the time and expense involved in upgrading these critical services, many opt to make do and work within their limitations.
Raised access floor virtually eliminates this problem. Customized floor panels incorporating plug and play power terminals means that power sources can easily be placed wherever they’re needed. And ease of access for wiring offers a fast and low-cost way for new equipment to be added to the existing network or replaced entirely. With this level of layout flexibility, you’ll be able to configure your work environment to best suit your organizational needs.
Take Full Advantage of Your Raised Access Floor
A raised access floor system brings cost savings, occupant comfort, and layout flexibility that non-raised floor facilities can’t match. If your commercial building features RAF, take full advantage of these critical features and ensure you aren’t missing out on the benefits to your organization.
AirFixture is a recognized industry leader providing innovative underfloor air distribution products and solutions for office buildings, casinos, event spaces, and government facilities around the world. Contact us today to speak to a UFAD expert and learn how this revolutionary system can deliver unrivaled air quality and significant energy and operational cost savings to your facility.