How does glass impact the efficiency of a workspace?
Ways the glass facade systems can help our offices become even more effective environments for people and businesses.
After 2020 and the global pandemic caused by the coronavirus, we thought we wouldn't return to offices. For almost two years of strict restrictions, our habits and daily lives underwent a radical transformation. Our apartments turned into restaurants, bars, cinemas, and, ultimately, offices. It seemed like we would forever stay in this new convenient paradigm.
However, despite numerous predictions of the "end of the old order," offices didn't disappear. On the contrary, more and more people are eager to return to them. The reasons for this are quite diverse, ranging from our evolutionary desire to be within a group to the satisfaction we derive from being in a comfortable work environment. Therefore, the challenge now is to transform our offices into spaces where people will want to return again and again. How can Aestech technologies contribute to this?
You're truly fortunate if you have a workspace near a window. A survey conducted by Future Workplace revealed that about 70% of employees consider a workspace next to a source of natural light as one of the key elements of a comfortable work environment. They noted that they feel much better and work more efficiently in a room filled with natural light.
Unfortunately, the majority of average offices cannot satisfy the need for natural light for all employees. To address this imbalance, they are equipped with additional sources of artificial lighting. Ironically, over the centuries, the invention of the light bulb played a cruel joke on us. The tool that extended the workday and elevated productivity to unprecedented levels is now working against us.
Due to flickering (fluctuation of light flux), our eyes constantly have to adapt to varying levels of illumination. This leads to rapid eye fatigue. The strain of artificial lighting, gadgets, and monitors quickly tires our eyes and is also one of the triggers for migraines – a leader among the symptoms that limit our productivity.
Natural lighting through glass constructions is one of the simplest yet most effective ways to reduce the negative impact of specific light spectra, create an aesthetic panorama, and regulate the indoor climate more effectively.
Moreover, the benefits derived from natural light influence not only work efficiency and well-being throughout the workday. Office workers who received sufficient natural light extended their sleep by 46 minutes. This helped them recover better, be more productive, and handle stress more effectively. Tracking Time asserts that people working in spacious offices with natural light spend 15% more time in the office than those working in artificially lit spaces.
A workspace filled with natural light also helps us obtain the necessary amount of vitamin D. Although it is not a vitamin itself, it is still associated with a vast spectrum of physiological effects. It helps regulate calcium exchange, participates in cell growth processes, and supports the nervous and immune systems.
It's worth noting that a healthy environment is not limited to light alone. Air quality is an equally important part of the office ecosystem that is often overlooked. There are objective reasons for this: without specialized equipment, we simply cannot determine its quality, so we perceive it as satisfactory.
According to research by CBI Economics, air pollution levels in UK offices are often higher than outdoors. Prolonged exposure to indoor spaces with concentrations of solid micro-particles and CO2 is one of the reasons for cognitive impairment, overall reduced well-being, various lung and heart diseases, different types of cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, and more. Overall, in the UK alone, poor indoor air quality leads to a loss of 3 million working days per year.
In the same study, it was calculated that if the UK were to achieve WHO's air quality targets, its economy could generate at least an additional £1.6 billion per year.
The issue of poor and polluted air in office spaces can be addressed by Aestech's innovative solution – a facade with an integrated recovery system. This system helps purify the air and regulate heat exchange within the premises. Unlike most solutions, this system allows for the adjustment of ventilation parameters for different rooms, making it significantly more energy-efficient. Additionally, the facade glass doesn’t have movable elements (such as opening windows), which substantially reduces its cost.
Moreover, the integrated system has no visible components on the facade – all its elements are concealed. Such a facade will appear lighter and more aesthetically pleasing. This ready-made solution also relieves architects of a considerable workload, as they don't need to figure out how to hide the recovery system inside the facade.
Glass facades are not just about the comfort and well-being of employees. They are also an effective tool that helps developers create environmentally friendly and energy-efficient workspaces while increasing project profitability.
A standard glass facade is not ecologically friendly by definition. To support the weight of glass panels, a significant amount of structural elements – supports and ridges – is required, often made from aluminum. Aluminum production is toxic and energy-intensive. Moreover, these structural components can deteriorate the aesthetics both externally and internally, impacting the overall interior space.
Engineers at Aestech have tackled this issue with their proprietary innovation – insulated glass units with higher stiffness (IGUHSs). In IGUHSs, all layers are rigidly bonded together, and the perimeter is reinforced with a pultruded profile. This design allows them to withstand significantly higher wind loads and various other types of stress, while crucially being self-supporting. In other words, these glass units don't require supports and ridges. The glass units are interconnected through a composite frame, where all connecting elements are screwed in. They are similarly attached to the structural elements of the building. As a result, developers obtain an aesthetic facade without frames and with reflection free of any visible distortions.
Structures employing a significant amount of glass exhibit enhanced aesthetics both from the outside and inside. This architectural trend has become the "new black" in modern business centers. Builders and businesses have long recognized that the demand for similar projects will continue to grow, driving up the price per square meter and consequently increasing the profitability of such projects.
It is worth mentioning that Aestech will participate in the World Architecture Festival 2023. This year, the festival will be held in Singapore, and Aestech will present its own frameless glazing technology based on insulated glass units with higher stiffness.