The assessment of the environmental quality directly perceived and experienced by the employees of 69 European offices
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A number of scientific studies have shown that the performance capacity and employees’ satisfaction, enjoyment and health are directly affected by how building occupants perceive the environmental conditions that characterize their working environment. The physical well-being and comfort perception of employees directly impacts their productivity and satisfaction. However, several researchers have shown that, in numerous office environments, indoor environmental conditions are far from being perceived as comfortable. Often the main causes are faultily commissioned and operated building management systems, the lack of appropriate and coherent quality management procedures and errors in design or construction of the building systems. In order to identify critical conditions and provide a set of improvement measures, a data collection and analysis tool has been developed. It is called Comfortmeter and is used, in this paper, to analyze 69 office environments distributed throughout Europe. The tool enables the evaluation of the performance of a building as directly experienced by its occupants. The evaluation covers the themes of thermal, visual and acoustic comfort, indoor air quality, individual control possibilities and the quality of the office environment. It provides detailed outcome and practical advice to create a healthier working environment for employees. In order to use the tool, it is required, first, to administrate an online survey among the employees. Then, the employees’ responses are gathered and stored in a database. Next, the stored data are statistically analyzed to objectify the occupants’ subjective comfort experience. Finally, a report is generated and presents (i) a comparative analysis of the building performance, (ii) a structured and easy-to-understand overview of the current comfort satisfaction as perceived by occupants, (iii) an indication of possible areas of improvement as well as (iv) a suggestion of the measures necessary to raise the comfort level and, eventually, the occupants’ satisfaction and productivity.