It should come as no surprise that environmental sensors measure environmental conditions. Specifically, workplace environmental sensors are used to detect a range of important factors, like CO2, particulate pollutants, temperature, humidity, VOC, radon, pressure, light, and noise. Because of this level of data, organizations can confidently deliver workplaces that support the health and well-being of their employees and visitors.
That’s good, right? Absolutely. But the even better news is that the benefits of having environmental sensors in the workplace don’t stop with health.
Let’s look at three additional reasons why organizations are turning to environmental sensor data.
1. Improves productivity
Research from the Harvard School of Public Health suggests that improved indoor air quality (IAQ) can boost employee productivity by up to $6,500 per person per year. While there are several environmental conditions these powerful smart devices can measure, we’ll focus on how three environmental factors that go undetected can negatively impact occupant’s productivity:
- CO2: Healthy CO2 concentrations for an occupied indoor space should fall between 350 and 1,000 parts per million (ppm). When CO2 levels reach between 1,000 and 2,000 ppm, some can begin to feel drowsy. And when CO2 concentrations are between 2,000 and 5,000 ppm, people can experience headaches and sleepiness, which can lead to poor concentration and an increase in heart rate and nausea. Affected buildings that cause Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) are estimated to impact up to 20% of workers. Improvements to air quality, reductions in air pollutants and better ventilation can reduce symptoms by 70-85%. Environmental sensors can ensure the workplace CO2 levels are within range, and flag when it’s less than optimal.
- Humidity: According to the EPA, indoor humidity levels should be between 30 and 50%. While low humidity work environments can increase employee susceptibility to colds and other respiratory illnesses, too much humidity in the workplace can cause mold growth which can lead to major health issues and productivity challenges – not to mention damage to buildings. Ensuring the right balance of humidity is key.
- Light: A study conducted by the American Society of Interior Designers showed that 68% of employees were dissatisfied about the lighting situation in their offices. You’ve likely heard it’s not good for your eyes to read or watch TV in the dark. That’s because dim lighting forces eyes to work much harder to see, and causes eye strain and headaches. Lower light levels can also cause drowsiness, lack of motivation and reduced productivity. Meanwhile, long periods of exposure to fluorescent lighting – which can be harsh and emit a “flicker” – can be especially problematic for productivity. Not only can it have a negative impact on mood, it can also contribute to headaches and migraine attacks, and blurred vision. An illuminance between 500 and 1000 Lux for a workstation is considered stress-free and replacing overhead lights with task lights closer to desks can replace energy consumption by 67%.
2. Enhances building performance
The World Green Building Council has found that buildings account for 37% of global greenhouse gas emissions and consume 35% of global energy. And, with stakeholders and governments also placing greater importance on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives, environmental workplace sensors have been a great way for organizations to make data-backed decisions for a more efficient and sustainable building.
“With the right set of workplace management solutions and tech in place, organizations can optimize their real estate in a way that supports hitting their carbon targets while also prioritizing the health and wellness of their employees.” – Brian Haines, Chief Strategy Officer, FM:Systems
Our Chief Strategy Officer, Brian Haines, summarized it best, “The increasing importance of environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) requires organizations to analyze a massive amount of reliable data. With the right set of workplace management solutions and tech in place, organizations can optimize their real estate in a way that supports hitting their carbon targets while also prioritizing the health and wellness of their employees. Take occupancy and environmental sensors, for example. They can easily be retrofitted to any building and provide decision makers with detailed insights about their energy consumption, indoor air quality and other wellness risks.”
3. Increases cost savings
Sensors can increase cost savings in two big ways. First, because environmental sensors reveal real-time environmental data, organizations can reduce unnecessary energy costs by identifying major energy consumption “gaps,” and then automate energy usage with Building Management (BMS) and Building Automation Systems (BAS) integrations. For example, organizations can allocate on-demand energy delivery from the HVAC and lighting systems based on actual, real-time demand reports from their environmental sensors – which is both great for the planet and for cost-reducing opportunities.
The second cost savings comes in the form of creating a healthy work environment for optimal productivity. The 3-30-300 rule argues that on average, organizations spend $3 on utilities (per square foot/year), $30 on rent (per square foot/year) and $300 on payroll (per square foot/year). This means, a 5% energy improvement would result in savings around $0.15/square foot still an impressive number for cost savings (and the environment); but, a 5% improvement in productivity would result in savings of $15/square foot! Said differently, the greatest cost savings an organization can gain is by providing their teams with a healthy, inspiring and productive workplace to do their best work.
Environmental sensors have moved from “nice to haves” to valuable tools for many organizations around the world, especially when they layer these insights with occupancy sensor data. As workplaces continue to evolve, and the spotlight falls on sustainability and employee health well-being, integrating environmental sensors into a workplace management strategy has become a smart investment.