Improving Organizational Productivity with Building Automation Systems

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Research Project Webinar 

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The Challenge: Improved Organizational Productivity through Improved Environments

Organizational  productivity is the efficiency with which an organization operates and the balance between input costs and output values. Productivity improves when costs are reduced or when outputs increase in value.

Organizations spend approximately 10 times more for the staff who do the work than for the buildings they work in. Making the right choice of environmental  conditions can benefit an organization if it supports the employees, and can provide a double benefit if it also saves energy. Conversely, building conditions (even energy-saving ones) that create discomfort or add barriers to effective work can be costly for both the building operators and tenants.

National Research  Council (NRC) has studied the relationship between work environments and organizational  productivity for over 15 years, leading to clear evidence that organizations, their employees and the environment itself can all benefit when the right choices are made. These studies include experiments  at our facilities in Ottawa, in which we have tested the effects of lighting, ventilation, acoustics and controls technologies on task performance,  work engagement,  comfort, satisfaction, and well-being.  These have been complemented by field studies that have included visits to over 40 buildings across Canada and the northern United States and have included surveys, both online and in person, of over 4000 individual  employees.

In the approach described in this document, NRC and Continental Automated  Buildings Association (CABA) members  are poised to undertake a structured initiative to demonstrate that smart, integrated technologies  produce organizational productivity  gains in addition to energy and environmental savings. The result will transform the high-performance  buildings industry by establishing the built environment  as a strategic tool for organizations to achieve their goals.

Research and results to date
Over many individual  technology-focused projects, we have demonstrated that the right environmental conditions are responsive  to what individuals  need.' When employees experience  environmental satisfaction, they are also more satisfied with their jobs.

As an example,  in the case of lighting controls we found that installing workstation-specific lighting controls combining  occupancy control, daylight harvesting, and individual control over light level could reduce lighting energy use by nearly 70% over the previous static system with zonal control. Employee surveys found that the new system led to improvements  in employee satisfaction that were associated with stronger organizational commitment and reduced intent to turnover, as well as to better physical well-being and less use of paid time off.

NRC evaluated 13 matched pairs of Green and conventional buildings across North America between·
2008-2012  in another organizational productivity  project. Green buildings are designed to provide improved interior conditions as compared to conventional  designs, and this post-occupancy evaluation confirmed that most green buildings deliver on this intent. Occupants perceived  the Green buildings as having better indoor environments and reported better well-being.

These findings are complemented by the Gallup Organization, which has shown that organizations in which employees have higher job satisfaction have lower turnover, more satisfied customers, and better business unit financial performance. Figure 1 shows the combination of Gallup and NRC finding.

Proposed Research - Demonstrating the Value of High-Performance Buildings
NRC is uniquely positioned to demonstrate that smart, integrated technologies  produce organizational productivity gains in addition to energy and environmental  savings. We will demonstrate that these gains are related to improved indoor environment conditions and that their value is equivalent to other corporate programs.  This evidence will accentuate the importance and speed the adoption of these solutions in the high-performance  building industry.

This work will build upon the approach described in our 2014 white paper for CABA and in the World Green Building Council report "Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in Offices". Using a balanced scorecard of meaningful metrics, we will demonstrate the value equivalents of technology investments in the built environment  in three stages:

Stage 1 will synthesize existing data to enable decision-makers to benchmark  their buildings against others on multiple organizational productivity metrics. Partners will receive guidance  concerning how to use this information to make strategic building decisions for their organizations  for the benefit of the organization and its employees.

Stage 2 will refine the framework from Stage 1 using partner-supplied data to increase the accuracy. 

Stage 3 will extend the model by collecting new field data from target buildings to fully validate the approach and to provide granular data that would support the monetization of the expected benefits.

CABA seeks partners to conduct this important work.  For more information on this opportunity, please contact Greg Walker, CABA Research Director.

Greg Walker
CABA Research Director
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 613.686.1814 x227