BCO survey finds small-power loads are too high

Small-power loads for offices are being over-specified by up to 40% according to new research by the British Council for Offices (BCO). The BCO enlisted Hilson Moran to undertake a study monitoring typical loads on desks. This work will inform the forthcoming revision to the BCO’s guide to specification that is due in September 2014.

A lower figure for small power loads would have two effects. It would reduce cabling requirements and also HVAC loads — with implications for space requirements and capital costs.

One finding is that power consumption occurs in such short peaks that HVAC is not affected. The report suggests that the installed cooling load could be 4 to 5 W/m2 lower than electrical loads.

With a person occupying 10 m2, 40% less power would be required, according to the study. With a higher occupation density of 8 m2 per person, research has shown that power consumption rarely exceeds 19 W/m2, which is 24% less than the load recommended in the 2009 BCO guide.

In recent years, the reduction in power demand has been largely due to advances in computer equipment and new ways of working. Most employees work on multiple devices such as tablets, smart phones and laptops, and are often not desk-bound for long periods of time. In the next few years, technology is likely to reduce small-power energy consumption in buildings even further.

Nigel Clark, technical director with Hilson Moran, said, ‘Developers, landlords and owner occupiers will be able to reduce the specification of their buildings to reflect advancements in technology and new ways of working, while reducing costs and helping them to meet Part L and energy-saving targets.’

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