Top Benefits of UFAD
The top benefits of UFAD commonly reported to us by our clients are:
- Improved flexibility for wiring, pipes and other building services
- Achieve cost effective LEED certification
- Measurably improved ventilation efficiency and indoor air quality
- Improved occupant comfort, productivity and health
- Reduced energy usage
- Reduced first and life-cycle costs
- Reduced slab-to-slab height and façade costs
Cost Competitive Benefits
Lower installation costs are just the beginning of the cost savings and efficiencies that an AirFixture under floor air service distribution system has to offer your facility. Our under floor service distribution design enables maximum value and flexibility.
You’ll realize immediate benefits in a reduction of materials, time and expense with this system. Projects using advanced service distribution solution have reduced installation costs by up to 10% and achieve 15% faster build and completion times. There are many areas where first costs can be neutralized, for example:
- Design Flexibility - Adapts easily to existing or new architectural features.
- Laminated Finishes – Applying finishes such as wood, stone and linoleum in the factory saves labor and materials cost.
- Voice/Data Cabling - Reduce cable run lengths, eliminate cable trays, and lower labor costs at installation.
- Power Wiring - ‘Plug & play’ technology significantly reduces installation costs.
- Furniture - Eliminate dependency on costly powered furniture and improve space planning options.
- Air Distribution - Significantly reduce trunk, branch, and discharge ductwork, lower first cost.
- Ceiling - Reduce or eliminate suspended ceiling requirements.
- Time to Occupancy - Underfloor services install quickly, allowing for earlier occupation.
- Structure – Improved integration of underfloor services provide slab-to-slab height reduction opportunities.
Benefits for Architects
Architects are constantly challenged to improve the indoor environmental quality of the buildings they design. Contemporary indoor environments must be designed to promote the health and well-being of occupants while also minimizing the impact on our natural environment. This requires striking the perfect balance between function, aesthetics, efficiency, health and comfort.
The use of raised floors and underfloor service distribution in commercial construction has seen significant growth over the last fifteen years. This growth can largely be attributed to the new set of building performance requirements because they help achieve these challenging goals.
Manufactured from non-toxic raw materials with high levels of recycled content, raised access floors minimize the initial impact on our environment. Furthermore, the use of underfloor air distribution (UFAD) reduces energy use and provides advanced personal comfort control. Raised access floors also improve the overall functionality of the building, with access for quick service changes and a wide range of high-end aesthetics that don’t require the sacrifice of flexibility.
More than 10 LEED Points are achievable by proper application of Raised access floors and UFAD. These systems will increase the value and operating efficiency of the facility. The end result is better return on investment for the owners of the facility.
Benefits for Designers
As a designer, you are challenged to deliver aesthetically pleasing interiors that are functional yet define a space. Color, texture, appeal, function and comfort all work together in the finishes you use. Access floors have emerged as a practical solution in many building types, not only to accommodate churn but to promote energy efficiency and occupant wellness. In order to allow designers to realize these benefits, access floor manufacturers understand the finish must meet current design trends. Products now include new and exciting finishes such as porcelain, hardwood, terrazzo, linoleum, cork, and rubber.
With air delivery devices in the floor to maximize effectiveness, diffusers become a more apparent and integral aspect of the occupied environment. The diffusers are the “USER INTERFACE” with the building’s HVAC system. The appearance, position and functionality of diffusers can have a significant influence in improving worker satisfaction in an office environment. AirFixture offers a wide variety of diffuser shapes, sizes, colors, textures and functionality to provide optimal effectiveness and desired aesthetics.
Benefits for Engineers
Under Floor Air Distribution (UFAD) offers a unique opportunity for improving indoor environmental conditions to Mechanical Engineers. In many cases UFAD can help achieve better ventilation effectiveness by supplying the air closer to the occupants. ASHRAE 62.1 ventilation code recognizes the displacement ventilation of well-designed UFAD systems as providing 20% better ventilation effectiveness. This means 20% smaller outside air pre-conditioning units and lower ventilation expense for the life of the facility. Close proximity cooling also improves personal comfort control by allowing the occupant to individually adjust and control their own micro-climate. Overall, UFAD is also an effective strategy for improving energy efficiency, attenuating noise, responding to organizational and technology changes quickly and easily, and supporting the overall aesthetic value of the facility – all while being cost-effective in both construction and operation.
AirFixture was a voting member and an active participant in the ASHRAE Technical Resource Group on Underfloor Air Design (TRG7-UFAD). The group updated and enhanced the UFAD Guide for the design, construction and operation of underfloor air distribution systems. In addition to the team members who worked on the book, AirFixture has more than 10 engineers to consult and collaborate with during the design process; an especially useful resource when implementing a new product such as the In-Floor Chilled Beam or Desk Top Personal Environmental control systems.
One of the most critical aspects of any Commercial HVAC system is occupant comfort. The ability to deal with perimeter load before it affects the occupants inside the building is one aspect these products are designed to facilitate. The other, personal comfort control, is achieved through the use of UFAD and improved by our programmable, electronically controlled diffusers.
UFAD saves operating cost by increasing outdoor economizer hours, lowering fan horsepower and increasing the granularity of space temperature control.
Benefits for Contractors
AirFixture has successfully executed several hundred UFAD projects in the last 15 years. We have experience with most types of buildings in every type of climate. With projects and local support in more than 25 countries we can provide system application advice to tailor the system to your specific application and budget.
Benefits for Owners
The perfect working environment in an owner occupied office building should address a variety of needs. The most valuable asset a company has is its people, and as a result maintaining or improving employee health can provide a significant and rewarding return on investment. Average employee costs in office buildings in the USA are over $500 per square foot per year. Any other operating cost, or even first cost of the facility, is small compared to this value. System features that do not impede and could even enhance worker production are recognized as of paramount importance. Utilizing access floors with underfloor service distribution can address these needs by maintaining high-quality clean air, improving personal comfort control, attenuating noise, and responding to organizational and technological changes quickly and easily. Access floors with high-end factory laminated finishes also support the overall aesthetic value of the building. Together these benefits offer a cost-effective solution for any headquarters or owner occupied building, during both construction and operation. With underfloor service distribution you have the ability to address all of the factors required to create the perfect working environment, reflecting the goals and image of your business.
- Enhanced indoor environmental quality through superior IAQ, improved acoustics, and increased daylighting opportunities
- Maximum occupant comfort control at design inception and throughout the life of the building using underfloor air with modular ‘plug & play’ VAV or manually controlled diffusers
- Energy efficiency through economizer operation, and less fan energy
- Easily adapts to technological and organizational changes over the building’s lifecycle at low cost
- Point-of-use services wherever you need them with complete flexibility, accessibility, and unlimited capacity
- Accelerated tax depreciation opportunities; UFAD and floor is FF&E (7 year amortized)
- Reduced first cost and construction time due to significant reduction in HVAC ductwork and use of underfloor pre-fabricated ‘plug & play’ wire/cable services
- Reduced operating costs and lower facility and maintenance costs through accessible, flexible, and adaptable services
Benefits for Developers
So, there is location, but what’s next? Meeting customer expectations can be managed, but what about when the customer is unknown? In general, the growing concern over increased greenhouse gas emissions coupled with rising energy costs and the desire to improve human health for building occupants has led to greater interest in how commercial offices are built and operated. Buildings which incorporate design and construction strategies to conserve resources, operate efficiently and improve the overall work environment for occupants are demanded in today's environmentally conscious built environment.
The popularity of these strategies is evident in the surge of sustainable and high performance buildings being constructed. For instance, the number of buildings receiving the USGBC's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification nearly doubled every year from 2007 to 2013. During the same time the number of EPA Energy Star buildings grew by 30%. This growth is expected to continue with McGraw-Hill Construction projecting the value of green building construction to increase to over $204 billion by 2016.
UFAD systems and raised access floors can result in lower cost shell and shift first cost to the tenant improvement. These strategies also can speed time to occupancy. Much more of the initial construction can be FF&E and amortized in a shorter time frame.
Several studies show that LEED buildings with Raised Access Floors and UFAD provide higher rent rates, higher occupancy rates and significantly higher resale value. (http://www.sandiego.edu/business/centers-of-excellence/burnham-moores-real-estate)