‘Indoor climate’ is a fairly broad term. The climate in a room is influenced by six factors, namely: the temperature, air speed, air quality, humidity, light and view. Sound can also be added if needed. The assessment of these factors together makes the indoor climate.
When does an office building have a good indoor climate?
We speak of a good indoor climate when the above factors are all experienced as very good (level A), good (level B) or acceptable (level C) by the employees. The class in which your indoor climate falls depends on the percentage of dissatisfied people. This percentage may differ per determining factor from 10% to 20% dissatisfied employees.
In The Netherlands, the Dutch Working Conditions Act obliges the employer to strive for the best possible working conditions for the employee. This also applies to the indoor climate. Different standards apply to each type of environment; for example, you cannot also use the standard for an office in a laboratory.
What are the risks of a bad indoor climate?
The main risk is reduced employee productivity and increased absenteeism due to illness. Frequently heard complaints in the office are: too cold, too hot, draft, stale air, headache, dry or burning eyes, dry throat, annoying noise, skin complaints and drowsiness. If these complaints are building-related, they often disappear after leaving the building.
What measures do you need to take to create a good indoor climate?
Temperature and draft
Provide a thermally comfortable climate. A thermally comfortable climate is an environment in which people have no preference for a warmer or a colder environment in their respective activity.
Drafts are cold or fresh wind currents that are caused by windows/doors that are open opposite each other. Draft is experienced as unpleasant.
TIP: Make sure the temperature of the office stays between 20 and 25 degrees.
Provide clean and safe indoor air. Various sources can adversely affect the quality of air: particulate matter, pollen, CO2, bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc. Ventilation is a way to refresh the air, but will not provide air purification. An air purifier does this, the air is sucked in and cleaned of pollution through a number of filters and blown out clean again.
TIP: Control air pollution by installing an air cleaner.
Insufficient amount of light, but also an incorrect arrangement of the screen in relation to the incidence of light, increases the risk of fatigue and comfort complaints. Ensure quality of light by not having too much and not too little light. Not only the amount of light is important to be able to perform the work properly, but also, among other things, the color temperature, color rendering index, contrast, glare, reflection, ratio of artificial light and natural light. A certain amount of daylight is essential for human functioning.
A distinction is made between harmful noise (above 80 dB(A)) and annoying noise (35 – 80 dB(A)). Depending on the duration of exposure, harmful noise can cause noise-induced hearing loss. To reduce this risk, the Working Conditions Act sets clear limit values for this. In principle, only annoying noise occurs in the office environment. What exactly ‘nuisance noise’ is depends on the environment, the nature of the noise and the nature of the work. When tackling noise, one can look at sound insulation of, for example, windows and (inner) walls.
What steps can you take next?
Investigate the current state of affairs (risk inventory) in the building and make an inventory of the number of complaints from employees, for example on the basis of a survey. Various tools can be used for this, such as:
- conducting surveys among employees;
- performing a risk inventory and evaluation (RI&E) and/or
- performing measurements.
1) Determine which improvements are necessary and determine which goals must be achieved and which goals are desirable (Plan of approach)
2) Execute the Plan of Approach within a specified period.
3) Periodically evaluate whether the goals are still being achieved and if so, whether the goals need to be adjusted.
4) By performing these steps, the indoor climate will be positively influenced.