With its achievement of Canada’s first Zero Carbon Building – Performance certification in June 2018, Bentall Kennedy’s 100 Murray Street building in Ottawa highlights how any high-performing existing building can reach zero carbon emissions. [Read more…]
Everyone knows that everyone loves natural light. Modern building design has been driven by occupants’ demand for open floorplans, tall ceilings and floor-to-ceiling glass. The proverbial “corner office” is the best spot because it has the most windows. And a recent study published in Harvard Business Review confirms that daylight and views are employees’ top office amenity over fitness centers, kitchens/cafes, standing desks and outdoor space.
But now we can quantify the benefits that natural light and views have for health and productivity outcomes, as well as business profits and real estate returns.
Daylight and Real Estate Value
If daylight and views are the top office amenity for employees, will tenants actually pay for it? A pair of studies funded by CBRE’s Green Research Challenge sought to answer this very question. The first study surveyed 708 organizational leaders and office managers in 329 buildings across 17 markets. They asked respondents how much more they would be willing to pay in rent for different features, and natural light came out on top:
Then, when the researchers examined 2,246 leases in 197 office buildings across 20 markets, they found the correlation was even stronger than people’s stated willingness to pay:
Natural light is the highest value building feature. Tenants say they are willing to pay up to 1.3% higher rent for a space with floor to ceiling glass. In reality they pay even more – 7% higher rent.
Health Benefits of Daylight
Employees are asking for daylight, and employers are paying for it, because it improves people’s lives. Daylight and views have a range of health and productivity benefits:
- 46 mins more sleep. Daylight affects our circadian rhythm, or “body clock” that influences many of our physiological processes. Office workers without windows get less sleep, have poorer sleep quality and increased sleep disturbances than workers with significant daylight exposure. Poor sleep has a direct link to decreased performance, increased fatigue and risk of injury.
- 5% fewer sick days. Daylight increases stress resistance, and reduces eye strain and headaches. A study of 175 office workers found that employees with access to high quality views and natural daylight take less sick time.
- 15% more time on work-related tasks. A study of 70 windowed vs 50 non-windowed offices in a software development company in New York found that people with windows and views spent more time in their office actively working.
Moreover, new research from Alan Hedge of Cornell University found that people working in offices with dynamic glass, which changes tint in order to optimize the daylight coming into a space and eliminate the need for shades, experience:
- 51% reduced eyestrain
- 63% fewer headaches
- 56% less drowsiness
These symptoms are the core of computer vision syndrome, which affects 50-90% of computer users and results in a 2.5% productivity loss.
Case Study: Streaming Media Company
View Inc. recently installed dynamic glass in buildings 3 and 4 of a streaming media company’s headquarters in California. The original two buildings experienced glare 27% of the day, and indirect glare almost all the time, due to the full glass facade. Blackout shades were installed to address the glare, sacrificing the views of redwood trees and the Los Gatos mountains. The next two identical buildings were constructed with dynamic glass, but were identical in every other way. A survey of 250 employees working on the campus found that employees had 30% higher productivity with views of the outdoors compared to shades, and identified proximity to windows as the #1 most desirable workspace location.
 Spenser Robinson; Robert Simons; Eunkyu Lee; and Andrew Kern. “Demand for Green Buildings: Office Tenants’ Stated Willingness-to-Pay for Green Features.” Journal of Real Estate Research (2016). Funded by CBRE’s Real Green Real Estate Challenge
 Spenser Robinson, Robert Simons and Eunkyu Lee. “Which Green Office Building Features Do Tenants Pay for? A Study of Observed
Rental Effects.” Journal of Real Estate Research (2017). Funded by CBRE’s Real Green Real Estate Challenge
 Boubekri et al. ” Impact of Windows and Daylight Exposure on Overall Health and Sleep Quality of Office Workers: A Case-Control Pilot Study” 2014. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4031400/
 Elzeyadi et al. ” Daylighting-Bias and Biophilia: Quantifying the Impact of Daylighting on Occupant Health” 2011. https://www.usgbc.org/sites/default/files/OR10_Daylighting%20Bias%20and%20Biophilia.pdf
 Figueiro et al. ” Daylight and Productivity- A Possible Link to Circadian Regulation ” 2014. www.lrc.rpi.edu/programs/lightHealth/pdf/daylightProductivity.pdf/
 Effects of Electrochromic Glass on Computer Vision Syndrome
 Productivity associated with visual status of computer users. Optometry. January 2004.
As Alberta’s first project to certify under the LEED v4 rating system, receiving ID+C Silver certification in April 2018, WSP’s Calgary office fit-out showcases the company’s commitment to supporting the growth of a healthier and more sustainable society.
The new 100,000 square foot space, and WSP’s pursuit of LEED certification, exemplify many features aimed at promoting sustainability, wellness and energy efficiency, including ensuring the use of healthier materials and emphasizing the importance of educating employees about the features of a greener work environment, while also generating operational savings.
Employee health and wellness were emphasized through features such as an open-plan layout providing ample access to natural daylight, a Sustainable and Healthy Purchasing Policy that draws on both LEED O+M and WELL requirements, and the use of low-emitting materials and furniture to minimize exposure to potential toxicants.
The use of biophilic design was also a major contributing factor in improving health, wellness and productivity, with the office incorporating a variety of natural elements, stimuli and patterns throughout the space. This helped the project achieve a LEED v4 Innovation point using the “Designing with Nature” pilot credit.
WSP noted that LEED v4 certification provided the most up-to-date framework for accomplishing its commitment towards creating a positive impact on the environment and people.
Click here to read a detailed case study about the project and learn more about how LEED v4 supports human health and wellness at cagbc.org/leedv4.
When Algonquin College made a commitment to become a more sustainable institution for future generations, it turned to Siemens to help achieve its goals.
For more than 25 years, Siemens and Algonquin College have partnered to work towards an ambitious goal of ensuring the college reaches a zero net carbon footprint by 2042.
A perfect partnership
As the first Canadian college to sign the Talloires Declaration, which commits post-secondary institutions around the world to be leaders in sustainability, Algonquin College set out to find a provider that could turn its visions of sustainability into a reality. After a strong bid combining solutions from a number of business units, Algonquin College signed on Siemens and its innovative approach.
John Tattersall, Director of Physical Resources Algonquin College:
At Algonquin College, we want to be recognized as global leaders in providing innovative and sustainable learning environments for our students so they can realize their hopes, their dreams, their aspirations. To do that we want a strategic partner that is a global leader. Siemens Canada is that strategic partner. Siemens not only understood the ‘what’ we were after, they clearly understood the ‘why’ we were after it.
Siemens ingenuity powers the campus
Siemens proposal was bold – a Campus Transformation supported by a Strategic Partnership. The scope included Campus-wide lighting and controls, water conservation, major HVAC upgrades, Demand Flow technology, Central Plant improvements, Building Automation and many other building improvements. The transformation also included a 4 MW cogeneration plant, scaled Solar PV, power storage and EV charging stations controlled by a Siemens Microgrid solution. In addition, an on-site Sustainability Coordinator was introduced to support the communication plan and drive non-technical savings through behavior and cultural change.
- Building Management System
- Distributed Energy Systems
- Distribution/Energy Management Systems
- HVAC retrofitting financed and guaranteed with an Energy Performance Contracting
- Energy/Sustainability Consulting
- Micro Grids
- Renewable Energy Systems
- Smart Metering
- Substation Automation
- Total Building Solution
A unique energy management system
On top of this extensive renovation, Siemens technology has allowed Algonquin College to create, direct and store its own energy. Siemens microgrid controller sets energy needs from the solar PV and CoGen. They then direct energy to the load, Algonquin College and to energy storage. When needed, the microgrid controller can direct stored energy to Algonquin College.
These improvements have resulted in significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from campus buildings, as well as substantial financial benefits. Long term, these will add up to tens of millions of dollars in operating cost savings and reduced deferred maintenance costs. In fact, Algonquin College has seen an annual reduction in costs of $3.2 million, which has been put back into improved classrooms and facilities for its most important stakeholder – its students.
To find out more about this innovative partnership, please visit https://www.siemens.com/ca/en/home/company/topic-areas/ingenuity-for-life/algonquin.html
Basin Street Properties Retrofit Seven Rooftop Units with SMC Motors And Saw Total Annualized HVAC Fan Energy Savings of 53%
Basin Street Properties is one of Northern California and Northern Nevada’s prominent developers, investors, and managers of commercial properties with over 4 million square feet under management. The company is committed to sustainable and resilient asset management including energy performance improvement across its portfolio.
Basin Street Properties had a specific goal to optimize HVAC system energy efficiency and make the system intelligent. The ideal HVAC solution would:
- Remotely correlate rooftop unit (RTU) motor data with thermostat data collected by its Building Automation System (BAS)
- Enable it to evolve from scheduled to predictive maintenance operations and dynamic maintenance scheduling
- Feature remote monitoring and fault detection for better service quality so its facilities team could respond to HVAC issues before customers had complaints with how the system was performing
Solution: SMC Smart Motor System (the “LED of Motors”)
SMC Smart Motors feature a patented Switched Reluctance design. Industry results highlight exponential improvements against standard induction motors in performance capabilities including torque, power density, efficiency and versatility. The SMC Smart Motor System combines internet-of-things (IoT) building automation technology to help building operators, facility managers, and certified contractors create intelligent and efficient energy systems. It provides real-time visibility and actionable insights for key components of commercial and industrial buildings. The SMC motor uses electricity only when needed to perform useful work and is less expensive to own and operate than a conventional induction motor.
Implementation: Retrofitting motors
Pilot site: The Lakes, 2255 Challenger Way, Santa Rosa, CA, owned and operated by Basin Street Properties. Building square footage: 20,000
Scope: The pilot project consisted of retrofitting seven RTUs (Manufacturer: Bryant) and replacing existing 1HP fixed-speed induction motors with 1HP SMC Smart Motors
Installation Partner: Mechanical Legacy and Energy Services
Measurement & Verification (M&V) partner: Gridium, Inc.
By replacing induction motors in RTU applications with SMC Smart Motor Systems, Basin Street Properties achieved:
- Total annualized fan energy savings of 53%
- Power draw savings of 30% in Heat/Cool mode (1550 RPM) and 87% in Vent mode (690 RPM)
- Monthly energy savings of 881 kWh when energy use was reduced from 1659 kWh before the project to 778 kWh after
The systems’ remote monitoring capabilities enabled SMC to detect that a motor pulley broke during the pilot and to alert maintenance teams immediately that it needed to be replaced.
- By replacing seven motors in its RTU HVAC system, Basin Street Properties achieved total annualized fan energy savings of 53%.
- The significant energy savings and reduced peak demand shrank the building’s carbon footprint and improved the company’s operations related to sustainability and resiliency.
- The simple motor design and predictive maintenance capabilities made the system more reliable and resilient.
- Equally important for a company that owns and leases office space, Basin Street Properties could better monitor and control comfort levels for the building’s occupants.