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Does It Feel Green in Here? Turning Down the Office Thermostat Doesn’t Save Energy

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Your employees have agreed to sacrifice their comfort in exchange for energy savings. You turn down the thermostat, everyone dons a sweater, and it’s all good, right? Not so fast. A new study from energy efficiency company Johnson Controls shows that while 69% of U.S. office workers (in an 800-person survey) are willing to forgo comfort for the sake of energy conservation, 78% of workers feel that their productivity lowers when the temperature is uncomfortable.

That’s a whole lot of uncomfortable, unproductive people–98% of workers surveyed also said that their office is too hot or too cold at some point. And in the end, a turned-down thermostat often doesn’t even save energy, since many employees turn to quick fixes like space heaters and personal fans. And when it’s really hot or cold, 30% of workers will take a walk. So what can be done to gain back all that lost productivity without giving up on energy efficiency?

According to Johnson Controls, the answer is simple: Separate a building into different zones, and allow employees in each zone to use individual workstation controls to tweak the temperature, air flow, lighting, and other environmental conditions as necessary. Sure, the study is biased–Johnson Controls sells a Personal Environments desktop control unit (we’ve also recently reported on EcoFactor, a wireless thermostat rigged up to a DSL or cable box that adjusts to weather info). But the zoned approach makes sense. And in the end, it could save big bucks–3% productivity gain in a 500,000-square-foot office translates into $2,925,000 in productivity savings, nothing to sneeze at.

[Via Business Green]

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