AET Flexible Space; leading provider of underfloor air conditioning systems are able offer an array of options to clients seeking to improve the indoor environment quality of commercial workspace. AET Flexible Space systems have been installed in around three million square metres of commercial buildings worldwide and the modularity and flexibility of these plenum based systems is a feature not seen in the traditional and often static installations of ceiling based air conditioning. This offers users and FM’s the ability to quickly and easily reconfigure workspace to suit changing needs.
The underfloor systems feature many functions to help users take control of their indoor environment and optimise workspace to suit different areas for different users at different times. A previous study made by MORI in London found that 78% of office workers requested personal control of their environment. At one major AET project the FM stated that staff comfort was a major consideration in selecting the system. Further he said that “it is not possible to keep all of the people happy all of the time from a temperature point of view and in the past expected to achieve perhaps 80% satisfaction." However with the AET Flexible Space system they applied a blind study and more like 98% of users indicated they were satisfied. “Quite an amazing performance really”
AET Flexible Space systems offer fully functional indoor environmental control; with integrated controllers for all units and full connectivity with house BMS using the latest flexvisor monitoring software. Recent product developments include the FlexTouch remote controller and soon to available FlexApp offering additional user friendly methods of adjusting the fantile integrated controllers remotely. The key to the performance of this functionality is understanding and operating the controls and communications hardware and software to optimise environmental conditions to suit.
Underfloor systems are commonly used in office environments, utilising the plenum beneath a raised floor as the ventilation zone. Fully conditioned air is fed into the plenum by zonal downflow units (CAM), and then supplied into the workspace via fan terminal units; more commonly known as a “Fantile”. The plug and play fantiles easily interchange with 600mm raised access floor panels allowing fast reconfiguration of office layout and easily accommodating minor changes and major churn. Equipment has simple yet sophisticated controls for individual users and facilities managers offering superior control of indoor environments compared with traditional ceiling based or wall mounted air conditioning units.
The fantile units feature integrated fatronic controllers as standard where users can personally adjust fan speed and temperature to suit their own comfort. It is interesting to note that when users are free to choose their environmental temperature they often choose higher temperatures than engineers design for; as a result considerable savings in operational energy can be made. A rise in setpoint temperature of 1oC will often reduce energy by as much as 10%. The FM can observe that users are selecting higher setpoints and can re-set the zone units accordingly, enabling fully functional control.
The plug and play fantiles can also be easily re-located within minutes to accommodate present and future changes in office workspace, or “churn”; a common factor in many modern offices. Facilities managers are frequently challenged by the pace of such churn, and it can exceed their ability to adjust electrical and BMS configurations due to costs, time and other such constraints due to fixed, stand-alone services with minimal or no control. Complaints of draughts and cold feet are common and so many times one sees ceiling diffusers switched off or covered with sticky tape and paper in an attempt to divert air when workers are based in a less than ideal position.
Local adjustment of CAM units by service and maintenance engineers is easy accessed via the Flexmatic display mounted on the unit face. Systems can be now be configured with full connectivity using the latest flexvisor software, allowing remote adjustment and monitoring. FM’s can use the flexvisor system to monitor usage and consequently streamline operational efficiency and provides a user friendly and cost effective solution to keeping the BMS updated.
The flexvisor system can easily interface with most leading BMS, such as Trend, Johnson, Honeywell in Bacnet or Modbus format as required and has been specially developed for monitoring and user control of AET Flexible Space UFAC systems. The latest flexvisor release offers enhanced remote monitoring and adjustment capability; accessed via an Internet Protocol (IP) address, it is available in multiple languages and provides an extremely user friendly solution to keeping the BMS updated and consequently is able to optimise energy efficiency of the building services.
After initial commissioning of the systems the flexvisor is populated by uploading an image of each floor plan. Each zone unit (CAM) is displayed along with up to the maximum twenty four (24) associated master fantiles. The fantile icons are simply clicked on then dragged and dropped to their chosen location. Each icon stores data related to room temperature, setpoint and fan speed. When a fantile is relocated it is a simply matter for the FM to drag and drop the associated icon it to its new location and it takes with it all the data originally applied. The same can be done with CAM units but typically zone units are not often relocated. Using the flexvisor system, service engineers and FM’s can also receive immediate email or SMS notifications about warnings or alarm signals when they occur, allowing them to respond quickly and minimise any potential system downtime.
Air conditioning is often the biggest source of complaint in office environments with around 20-30% of workers not happy with their temperature; either being too hot or too cold. AET Flexible Space systems can overcome this problem by providing user adjustment locally at the fantile or CAM and remotely via the flexvisor monitoring system offering superior control of fast changing environments. With future leading workspace trends pointing towards the creation of active and agile spaces as well as intelligent space, the AET Flexible Space UFAC systems can easily satisfy the demands of both adapting and controlling heating and cooling within mixed use and changing workspace.