As employees demand healthier workplaces, customers have increased their investments in optimized workplaces and facilities. These are optimizations in all elements of the office environment, like temperature, humidity, and air quality. Once considered “nice to have”, a healthy environment is now a fundamental service that customers expect from any facilities manager and building owner.
With this increased demand, facilities managers (FM) are basing their decision-making and enhancing their offering on building platforms and Integrated Workplace Management Systems (IWMS) that contain some facet of environmental monitoring & subsequent optimization.
And this all starts with measuring and controlling ambient temperature.
What is Ambient (Room) Air Temperature?
Ambient temperature, also known as room temperature, is the air temperature of any room, location, asset, or the environment around where equipment is stored. It is typically a temperature at which people feel comfortable.
What is the Perfect Ambient (Room) Air Temperature?
The perfect ambient temperature typically falls under the range of 64 to 75°F (18 to 25°C). Indoor temperatures in this range are generally acceptable and not associated with any health risks for adults.
But culture and geography can influence what is deemed to be a “comfortable” temperature. For example, people from warmer countries tend to prefer a higher ambient temperature than those from colder countries.
What is the Perfect Ambient (Room) Air Temperature for an Office?
The ambient temperature in an office or work area is affected by many factors and can change throughout the day. For example, the ambient temperature will be affected by:
- changes in the number of people physically located in an office
- air conditioning and ventilation
- the presence of electrical or IT equipment
- variations in the outside temperature
Additionally, there may be different ambient temperature requirements in different parts of the building. For example, the room temperature in an office will probably be higher than in a computer room.
Because there is no set range, it is important to measure and optimize the office air temperature depending on employee requirements, changing conditions, room type, and comfortability levels.
What is an Ambient Air Temperature Sensor?
An ambient temperature sensor is a device that accurately measures the temperature in a room, location, or around an asset or equipment.
There are many different types of ambient temperature sensors, but companies are now opting for unobtrusive, wireless, cloud-based solutions. These sensors are usually tiny, blend into any environment, and don’t require any wires. They instead communicate and report temperature via the cloud.
Disruptive Technologies temperature sensors, for example, are tiny, only 19x19x2.5 mm, can be installed in minutes, and have a long wireless range. They also last for up to 15 years, which requires no maintenance. Thus, the barrier to entry for most companies is very low.
Temperature sensors can therefore be installed throughout a building to provide an organization with a detailed breakdown of temperature levels everywhere.
How does the system transmit ambient temperature data?
The temperature sensors are attached to a wall in a room and accurately record and transmit temperature data. The data communicate securely via a Cloud Connector to the cloud. From here, it can be forwarded via an API or data connectors for further analysis in any application.
Ambient temperature sensor data enhances the quality of most IWMS and FM systems, without a need for hardware, maintenance, or installation expertise. Thus, FMs can make use of real-time environmental data directly from their existing platforms and a very simple installation process.
Why is Ambient (Room) Air Temperature Important?
Measuring ambient temperature is important for companies to ensure:
- employee wellbeing
- efficient complaint management
- energy efficiency
- equipment lifetime is extended
Maintaining a pleasant ambient temperature thus not only ensures a better working environment but brings many tangible benefits to organizations.
#1 - Employee Wellbeing & Ambient Temperature Monitoring
Employees have a hard time concentrating if they are too hot or too cold, resulting in errors, inconsistencies, and lower performance. Exposure to higher temperatures can lead to other heat-related health issues including:
- heat exhaustion
- muscle cramps
- heat swelling
By maintaining the ambient temperature of an office between 64 to 75°F (18 to 25°C) will improve productivity. This also eliminates other medical conditions that can be brought on by excessive heating. Sick leaves may decrease, again supporting better health and productivity.
Measuring ambient air temperature also helps adjust the discrepancies in optimal air temperature needs of different spaces. Computer rooms, for example, generally need lower temperatures than office spaces due to the heat generated by equipment. Analyzing ambient temperature data allows companies to maintain different ambient temperatures in different locations, to ensure it is comfortable everywhere.
#2 - Complaint Management
Within a typical office environment, 68% of FM state that temperature is the biggest complaint they receive.
However, the lack of up-to-date and accurate information means they are unable to respond efficiently and make the necessary changes to alter the ambient temperature. These include manually increasing or decreasing the settings of the air conditioning units or heating systems.
IWMS or building automation platforms can optimize the office temperature based on real-time measurements of ambient temperature. This will reduce complaints, allowing FM to concentrate on other activities and employees to be happier with the environment they work in.
#3 - Energy Efficiency
Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems usually account for around 35% of an entire building’s power usage.
Any decrease in their use will lead to energy savings and an increase in net operating income. As most office environments tend to be warm, setting the correct ambient temperature will usually be achieved by reducing the heating.
At the same time, as a consequence of companies not having control over office temperature, staff may manually override systems that have been designed and configured for energy efficiency. This will result in both energy goals not being met and increased costs, with management being unable to identify the reasons for these.
Having real-time ambient temperature data will help facilities managers ensure that heating systems are optimized without any intervention from employees. As a result, energy usage will also be optimized, whilst companies will see a reduced energy bill.
Additionally, the data collected from the sensors can be used to determine if unoccupied spaces in the building are either being cooled or heated unnecessarily. If so, site managers can adjust heating and ventilation systems to run only when needed.
#4 - Extending Equipment Life
Maintaining an appropriate ambient temperature is crucial for the proper functioning and longevity of computer equipment.
A rule of thumb is that every 10°C increase in temperature, over a sustained period, reduces component life by half. Many factors affect this rule but the principle that overheating electrical components reduces their life expectancy remains valid.
Analyzing ambient temperature measurements, especially in computer rooms, is a crucial activity for maximizing the longevity of devices, preventing malfunctions, and avoiding damage.
Examples of where this is important include:
- Validating that a device’s internal cooling system is working sufficiently e.g. a laptop fan.
- Reducing the usage of heating systems to extend their life expectancy
- Determining the energy efficiency of a heating or cooling system
- Limiting the power dissipation, or power current, to a safer value
Wrapping Up Ambient (Room) Temperature
Ambient or room temperature, the temperature of the air at any specific location or around a specific asset in a building, is the first step to environmental condition optimization.
Ensuring that employees work in an optimal environment with a pleasant and comfortable temperature is essential for their well-being. If the temperature is outside of the accepted normal range, levels of concentration can fall, drowsiness and sickness can occur, and work performance will be affected. And people will keep complaining to facilities managers.
To address these issues, companies are now installing intelligent sensors to accurately measure, record, and store the ambient temperature at regular intervals. Integrated workplace management systems or building automation platforms then collect and analyze the information to provide facilities managers with a clear picture of actual room temperatures throughout the building.
Based on this data, heating and cooling systems can be adjusted, often automatically, to set the ambient temperature to an appropriate level for each location. As a result, wellbeing is maintained, performance is improved, energy efficiencies can be achieved, and the life expectancy of equipment can be extended.