Optimized space management can be a hot export product

Optimized space management can be a hot export product

Mobile knowledge work has revolutionized the principles and practices of facility management. The New Wow work package of the PRE program examined the impacts of change as well as created new tools that allow increasingly effective and productive use of facilities. The driver company of the work package, Rapal Oy, exploits this new knowledge through its rapidly growing U.S. subsidiary.

 The New WoW research program led by Rapal developed, tested and evaluated various tools and methods intended especially for the evaluation of space utilization. The resulting knowledge provides management a good idea of the current situation and the potential for its improvement. The methods were tried out at Rapal and five other organizations that participated in the work package.

Rapal Oy has launched software that includes the necessary tools for facility management, property maintenance and construction projects. According to Rapal, the service has enabled its clients to save as much as 10 to 50% in annual space costs.

The program is modular and includes financial, rental and space management modules as well as modules for environmental accounting, real estate portfolios and evaluation of space utilization.

The development of the service in international markets will be boosted by the merger of the U.S. Co3 Group into Optimaze Inc., a Rapal subsidiary operating in California, in early 2013. The latter has been engaged in market research for a year and a half:

– The sector is presently very hot in the U.S. We aim to get 50 clients by the year-end, but pleasant surprises are quite possible. Intensive marketing will start this fall. Sales will focus initially on one service module, the others will be included later, says Jyrki Kalavainen, President of Optimaze Inc.

We have to be able to identify different users of spaces and their work methods

The results of the studies of the New WoW work package indicate that better understanding of the ways in which people work is required – especially why and how they have chosen them, how they work together, and how they use technical tools. Such factual information makes it possible to develop the work environment in a more productive and environmentally friendly direction.

A study led by Senate Properties focused on change in the government work environment. The aim was to create a user-centric design tool for sustainable work environment development. Practical solutions were studied from five viewpoints: sustainable mobility, productivity, well-being, procurement and use.

Communication is key in preparing for change. It makes people ready for change even before a project is launched. Successful communication requires understanding what motivates people to act in a sustainable manner. Four different behavioral profiles based on identified motivations were created. They were evaluated and developed with experts of Senate Properties. The profiles were used to create use scenarios which took into account different states of mind and the primary reasons for accessing a website. That revealed existing stumbling blocks and special needs along the access path.

The workspace is selected on the basis of the day’s work

The premises of ISS Palvelut Oy (ISS Services) in Lahti were designed so as to allow each employee to choose freely the workspace best suited for the work at hand. The premises have spaces for team work, making and receiving calls and working with laptops. Results were collected through observation, interviews and questionnaires.

The conclusions drawn strongly support the importance of participatory preparation. Discussions are to be had during reorganization of work and spaces, drawing of plans and deployment of spaces. The smooth functioning of the company infrastructure, such as data connections and printers, also proved extremely important. Thus, teaching staff to use new technology and tools is of utmost importance. As premises change, attention must also be paid to work methods.

Meters based on number of users for measuring energy consumption of premises

A study by Granlund and VTT tested methods that measure the energy consumption of premises in relation to the number of users. Various sensors and related technologies are under intense development, and reliable and economical methods are being introduced. They will allow measurements based on the number of persons to become a good means of sustainable, economical and automatically controlled real-time management of energy and space use.

According to the study, the currently used measurement technology is still expensive and unreliable. After it develops sufficiently, we can expect savings in both heating and ventilation. Building safety will also increase. Questions about privacy and loss of comfort as a result of possible denser building remain open.

Technology is expected to be sufficiently accurate and affordable in a few years. Until then, it is best to dimension and design on a kWh/m2 basis, the study concludes.