Building-related symptoms, energy, and thermal control in the workplace: personal and open plan offices

Sally S. Shahzad, John Brennan, Dimitris Theodossopoulos, Ben Hughes, John Kaiser Calautit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


This study compared building-related symptoms in personal and open plan offices, where high and low levels of control over the thermal environment were provided, respectively. The individualized approach in Norway provided every user with a personal office, where they had control over an openable window, door, blinds, and thermostat. In contrast, the open plan case studies in the United Kingdom provided control over openable windows and blinds only for limited occupants seated around the perimeter of the building, with users seated away from the windows having no means of environmental control. Air conditioning was deployed in the Norwegian case study buildings, while displacement ventilation and natural ventilation were utilized in the British examples. Field studies of thermal comfort were applied with questionnaires, environmental measurements, and interviews. Users' health was better in the Norwegian model (28%), while the British model was much more energy efficient (up to 10 times). The follow-up interviews confirmed the effect of lack of thermal control on users' health. A balanced appraisal was made of energy performance and users' health between the two buildings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number331
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 6 Apr 2016


  • building-related symptoms
  • individual control
  • thermal comfort
  • workplace

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