Office Comfort Conditions & Criteria

Background – The Risks

With the global drive towards enhanced energy efficiency many buildings are becoming increasingly airtight. With this air tightness comes increased risk to occupants comfort and health from poor internal environmental conditions. There is now increasing evidence to support concerns that poor indoor air quality is having a deleterious affect on productivity and performance. This in addition to any underlying impact on occupants health and well-being.

The term Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) has been used to define those buildings in which there is a prevalence of a range of symptoms causing discomfort and a sense of being unwell [HSE OC 311/2 Sick Building Syndrome: Guidance for specialist inspectors].

The range of symptoms include:

  • eye, nose and throat irritation;
  • sensation of dry mucous membranes and skin;
  • hoarseness, wheezing, coughs and frequent respiratory infections;
  • skin rash and itching;
  • headaches and mental fatigue; and
  • nausea and dizziness.

There appears to be no single cause for SBS although there a several known contributory causes including:

  • Poor Ventilation
  • Thermal Discomfort
  • Low Humidity
  • Air Pollution

The HSE has published details of the most commonly used indicators of thermal discomfort. These are:

Environmental Factors:

* Air Temperature * Radiant Temperature * Air Velocity * Humidity

Personal factors:

* Clothing insulation * Metabolic Heat

Energy Evaluation Services IAQ Checklist

Energy Evaluation Services EES have developed a 20 point health and comfort checklist for offices. Through this checklist EES consultants can help clients identify those issues within a space that could affect staff and occupants well-being.

Temperature / Humidity Checks

  1. Air Temperature
  2. MRT Radiant Temperature
  3. Thermal Stratification
  4. Thermostatic Control
  5. Relative Humidity (%RH)

Air Flow Checks

  1. Air Movement
  2. Fresh Air supply
  3. Filters
  4. Ventilation System / control
  5. Window provision

Airborne Contamination Checks

  1. Bacteria (airborne & surface)
  2. Moulds / Yeasts
  3. Dust (particulates / Fibres)
  4. CO2
  5. VOCs / HCHO (Formaldehyde)

Drinking Water Checks

  1. Drinking Water Supply & Storage
  2. Bacteria (TVC @ 22oC / 37oC)
  3. Bacteria (Coliforms TC/EC)
  4. Legionella Pneumophila
  5. Preliminary Review & Assessment
Share our news: