Maintaining an Environment for Efficiency
There can be very few buildings that don’t have some form of environmental control. Whether it’s a simple heating system or a complex HVAC installation, those responsible for operating and maintaining it face two challenges: they must preserve a comfortable environment within the building, and they must minimise energy consumption. Measuring and monitoring are the keys to meeting these seemingly conflicting challenges, says Julian Grant of Chauvin Arnoux.
As most of those responsible for managing buildings and workplaces will surely know, measuring and monitoring the performance of systems that have an effect on the environment in these locations is no longer optional. To meet the requirements of Part L of the Building Regulations, for example, HVAC systems and the like must be commissioned in line with the design intent, which necessarily means evaluating their performance. And the Energy Performance of Buildings Regulations require all but the smallest air conditioning systems to be inspected regularly at intervals that must not exceed five years.
There are also more general regulations, such as The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992. These don’t explicitly require measurement and monitoring beyond specifying that thermometers must be provided, but they do say that “during working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside building shall be reasonable”, and “effective and suitable provision shall be made to ensure that every enclosed workplace is ventilated by a sufficient quantity of fresh or purified air.”
It is also worth noting that lighting is an important element of the work environment and that there are many regulations and guidelines relating to the provision of adequate lighting. A useful guide in this instance is HSG38 “Lighting at Work” which can be downloaded free of charge from The Health and Safety Executive website.
With so much regulatory weight behind the measurement and monitoring of environmental control systems, it would be easy to see these tasks as thankless burdens that absorb time and money while delivering little in the way of tangible business benefits. That would be a mistake. As a quick web search will readily confirm, there’s an enormous amount of evidence to show that a good working environment boosts worker productivity and efficiency, and those are benefits that no company can afford to ignore. In short, effective environmental control not only keeps the regulators happy, it also helps businesses to operate more profitably.