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Office Spaces are Getting Smaller; How This Affects Indoor Air Quality

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Office Spaces are Getting SmallerOffice towers in Toronto have been undergoing major renovations. Corporations want to cut costs by downsizing the number of buildings they occupy—and they are turning to new office design layouts to achieve this. Traditional workspaces are shifting into open, collaborative spaces and organizations are filling them in with more employees.

Rethinking the Office”, a recent article in The Globe and Mail examines an overhaul of the Manulife Financial Bloor Street East office in Toronto. Manulife is reducing the size of their employee workstations and they aren’t alone. Many corporations have been jumping on this office design trend and cost saving technique, but it comes with a downside…

Why it’s a Problem

The high rise office buildings in downtown Toronto were originally designed and built for specific occupant loads, (and so were the HVAC systems). Renovations that cram more employees into an open office space may not take the original design or capacity of the equipment into consideration. The indoor air quality in any office will suffer if employees occupy more space than the HVAC system was designed for.

Trading Spaces

Corporations are looking for ways to condense locations as a cost saving measure. One of the easiest ways to achieve this is by reducing dedicated offices and desk spaces; placing everyone out in open, shared spaces. The open office might look spacious, but square footage per person has been plummeting over the years:

“Ten or 15 years ago the bank towers and their neighbours in the downtown financial district would have been at about260 square feet of space per person. Today that would be closer to 160 square feet per person.”
– Rethinking the Office, The Globe and Mail

Important Note:  Increasing the occupancy in offices will put more stress on the building’s HVAC system, causing it to run inefficiently and break down faster.

A Breath of Fresh Air

When compared with other major cities, the office spaces in Calgary top the list. Corporations residing in Calgary have allotted as much as 300 to even 400 square feet of space per person. It’s uncertain if the smaller space trend will be spreading into their spaces any time soon.

How to Fix It

Have a professional HVAC technician access your building’s heating and cooling system. They can calculate the impact the occupancy load can have on the HVAC system and create an HVAC maintenance plan to keep it running smoothly. You should also receive an indoor air quality report to find out if your office space suffers from poor air quality.

Related Articles:
Are You Testing Your Building’s Indoor Air Quality?
Indoor Air Quality: What You Need to Know [Infographic]

>How is the air quality in your office? Contact us at ICS to set up an HVAC inspection and an indoor air quality analysis. We’ll let you know how you score and suggest areas you can improve on. 

Dave Morrison is the General Manager at Intelligent Comfort Solutions. He has over 20 years of experience in residential and commercial HVAC maintenance, repair, installation, and indoor air quality improvement. He prides himself on finding the best HVAC solution for your business, and building a lasting relationship that your business can depend on. Dave is known for his open and honest communication and his friendly top notch customer service.

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