If you're afraid of change, don't look down now!


ISSN: 0263-2772

Article publication date: 1 March 2000




(2000), "If you're afraid of change, don't look down now!", Facilities, Vol. 18 No. 3/4. https://doi.org/10.1108/f.2000.06918cab.020



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

If you're afraid of change, don't look down now!

If you're afraid of change, don't look down now!

Keyword: Air-conditioning

As soon as commercial property developers really grasp the idea of how much money can be saved by siting air-conditioning beneath a raised floor, rather than overhead in ceiling voids, the latter breed of system will disappear. So says chartered engineer and MD of Advanced Ergonomic Technologies (AET) Glan Blake Thomas, who has pioneered the concept of flexible space in the UK.

Combined with the fact that zoning and office churn are so easily achieved with the kind of underfioor system provided by AET, the changing tide of preference for this solution will quickly gather momentum, as soon as facilities managers realize how much easier their lives will be with it.

Commercial buildings in the modern age must encompass scope for rapid and problem-free change. Important factors are long-term flexibility, ease of control, effective maintenance procedures and running costs. With traditional variable volume and fan coil systems space-planning is severely restricted as the siting of partitions and workstations is often largely dictated by the location of fixed, ceiling-based air supply units. This can frequently lead to costly remedial work and weeks of inconvenience to accommodate simple re-location.

A floor recessed fan terminal unit, however, can be added or removed in less than ten minutes and an under-floor air delivery system will easily and rapidly accommodate the most drastic floor-plan changes. Panasonic and Digital have quoted savings in the region of $150 per square metre per annum when compared with ceiling-based systems, as well as a reduction in facilities-related operating costs in the order of 30 per cent.

The system can be viewed as a jigsaw puzzle, where all the pieces are of equal size and shape. The beauty is that the floor tiles are interchangeable with the recessed air-conditioning units themselves. Where installed with de-mountable partitioning as well, the relocation of personnel, equipment and work groups can be achieved in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost normally associated with this frequently cursed aspect of facilities management.

Hard-pushed facility managers who want to see more of this type of common sense will find staunch allies in their finance directors too. Recent changes in capital allowance legislation are making underfloor air-conditioning increasingly attractive to commercial tenants. Announced by Chancellor Gordon Brown in May 1998, the legislation changes allow 25 per cent capital allowance concessions over the next four years, and 25 per cent per year on the cost of the capital asset in UK mainland as a writing down allowance. The whole amount can be claimed against tax in the year in which the expenditure was incurred - resulting in significant savings.

Most businesses think of capital allowance on machinery and plant as meaning computers and manufacturing equipment only. Owing to the fact that the raised floor is used as an air flow plenum for the air-conditioning, however, the status of the floor itself alters from "fixture" to "plant and equipment". In addition, anything that is placed on the floor, such as demountable partitions and associated units, also attracts capital allowances.

For further information contact: Glan Blake Thomas at AET. Tel: +44 (0) 1883 744860; Fax: +44 (0) 1883 741 866. Web site: www.Flexible Space.com; E-mail: AET@FlexibleSpace.com

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