Energy and comfort in contemporary open plan and traditional personal offices

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Two office layouts with high and low levels of thermal control were compared, respectively traditional cellular and contemporary open plan offices. The traditional Norwegian practice provided every user with control over a window, blinds, door, and the ability to adjust heating and cooling. Occupants were expected to control their thermal environment to find their own comfort, while air conditioning was operating in the background to ensure the indoor air quality. In contrast, in the British open plan office, limited thermal control was provided through openable windows and blinds only for occupants seated around the perimeter of the building. Centrally operated displacement ventilation was the main thermal control system. Users’ perception of thermal environment was recorded through survey questionnaires, empirical building performance through environmental measurements and thermal control through semi-structured interviews. The Norwegian office had 35% higher user satisfaction and 20% higher user comfort compared to the British open plan office. However, the energy consumption in the British practice was within the benchmark and much lower than the Norwegian office. Overall, a balance between thermal comfort and energy efficiency is required, as either extreme poses difficulties for the other.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1542-1555
Number of pages14
JournalApplied Energy
Issue numberPart 2
Early online date5 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • energy
  • individual control
  • open plan office
  • personal office
  • thermal comfort

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