From space to service

Karen Fletcher

“This month, industry experts offer their views on indoor air quality. It’s one of those topics that has been around for quite some time, but now it is combined with a greater emphasis on wellbeing and is rising up the agenda for our built environment.

Add to this the growing problem of pollution in our urban areas (very noticeable in the warmer weather) and you have a situation in which the air we breathe could do us more harm than we’d like to think. Several of this month’s contributors point to the dangers of even tiny particles in the air that can easily penetrate our offices, homes and schools.

The role of building services professionals is very clear. Clients need good advice on products that can ensure buildings are safe havens from poor air (as the BESA campaign is encouraging us all to do). Today’s HVAC technologies can go beyond merely complying with regulations, and offer solutions that support long-term occupant health and comfort.

In our Working Buildings section, the issue of good maintenance (planning and execution) is to the fore. And this can’t be overlooked when it comes to making the indoor environment a pleasant place to be. As we enter the summer period, school buildings in particular will be the focus of a lot of maintenance, and now is a great time to encourage cost-effective upgrades not only for energy efficiency, but also for better air quality.

And if you want evidence that ‘wellbeing’ isn’t merely a phase that the industry is going through, check out our feature on page 40 where we look at the latest trends in office use and design. What’s more, we report this month that the British Council for Offices will be including wellbeing as part of its 2019 specification guide (see page 5).

The ‘office as a service’ is where we’re heading as the younger generation of entrepreneurs is embracing the notion of an office that’s like a second home. They’re looking for flexible, open and welcoming spaces where physical and mental wellbeing are very much catered for – and they’re willing to pay for it too. This is a very different kind of office occupant from their parents’ and grandparents’ generations.

For the building services industry, the trend towards healthy, productive workplaces is both an opportunity and a challenge. Flexibility will be the watchword, as the use of spaces in the office environment changes frequently. And if an office is a service, not just a space, then expect the customers to be far more demanding.”

Karen Fletcher

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