By Alexandre Schinazi
Everyone in Brazil has begun to feel the impacts of the country’s energy crisis, as energy tariffs across the nation have increased multiple times in the past months.
Companies are responding with an increasing interest in energy efficiency, hiring consultancies to help them identify and implement energy-saving strategies. But how far should they go? Is it OK to set the air conditioners at higher temperatures, or to reduce the amount of lighting? How will this affect employees’ comfort levels?
Energy efficiency measures should never compromise the quality of service offered by a building to its occupants. First, there are minimum thermal and visual comfort requirements established by federal legislation that must be continuously met. Furthermore, various studies have shown that people´s well-being at their workstation has direct influence on their productivity, besides being an effective way to maintain good employees in the company. Considering that salaries compose more than 80% of a typical office building’s energy costs, it’s important to keep building users satisfied.
However, evaluating building user satisfaction is not a simple task, due to the subjective and complex nature of the parameters. In order to address this issue, the BUS (Building Use Studies) methodology was developed in the United Kingdom after decades of research, using surveys and analytics to transform occupants’ perceptions into quantitative results, thus allowing buildings to be evaluated objectively in a way that can lead to actual improvements.
Figure 1 – BUS results are presented as graphs, with scores for specific and overall comfort categories ranging on a scale from 1 to 7. The graphs display overall averages as well as a cross-section of occupant responses, and the findings are benchmarked against other buildings through percentile plots.
In essence, BUS offers directors and building managers the necessary tools to make strategic decisions that improve employee satisfaction rates while also increasing their productivity, based on concrete information.
Because of its significance, the BUS methodology was officially adopted by the UK Government for post-occupancy evaluation of British buildings. Since then, over 800 buildings across the globe have benefitted from it. Just recently, MITSIDI completed its training to become the first official BUS partner in Brazil, meaning that buildings here can finally apply for a BUS survey, too.
With this step forward, we continue in our mission to improve transparency, efficiency and quality in the built environment, focusing not only on energy consumption, but on people as well.