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Glumac Airship Takes Off

Sitting atop the old Rockefeller compound in downtown Shanghai is one of the city's most progressive office spaces. It is also one of the healthiest. Step inside for fifteen minutes and you won't want to leave.
The office is home to Glumac, the well-known MEP engineers originally from the US. It is a showcase of their capabilities as well as their commitment to improving the built environment.
Once it is fully operational the project will be the first net-zero water and net-zero energy office in China. It is well on it's way to becoming the first certified Living Building Challenge (LBC) project in Asia as well as the first LEEDv4 platinum office in China. As if this wasn't enough, the office is also one of the first in the world to be RESET™ certified for health. The project was the result of a close collaboration between Glumac, Gensler, Shimizu, LBC and GIGA.
As the people reviewing certification for RESET™, we get to see an enormous amount of data on indoor air quality: from the documentation of chemical off-gassing due to materials, all the way through to real-time indoor air quality results. Looking at this data, one of the greatest lessons learned is how responsive the Glumac space is compared to typical offices.
The Status Quo.
Powered by central systems with minimal control at the tenant level, typical spaces in office towers tend to be slower in responding to change. In many cases the spaces aren't designed to respond at all: fresh air is delivered according to estimates that have no correlation to how many people are actually in the offices. Indoor temperature adjusts slowly to outdoor changes while humidity and chemical off-gassing go completely unchecked. The end result is that these offices cost more. More precisely, slow response times cost more.
When CO2 rises and the mechanical systems respond too slowly or not at all, money is lost to decreases in productivity. When temperature and humidity are slow to respond, money is lost to over-heating or cooling. When PM2.5 and chemical off-gassing go unchecked money is lost to sick leaves and increased health bills. Of course, the biggest loss of all is to the one thing money can't buy: duration and quality of life. In an unresponsive building, keeping indoor air quality within health limits means that the mechanical system needs to work harder.
The Glumac Status.
Air quality within the Glumac office is controlled by a dedicated BMS (building management system). The system processes the measurements made by the sensors to control the HVAC equipment. By powering up and down according to sensor feedback as well as occupancy, the mechanical system works less. This saves money while keeping people healthier.
Having the supply of fresh air controlled by CO2 sensors and a BMS is not a particularly new idea. Having the BMS consider PM2.5 and chemical off-gassing on top of balancing temperature, humidity and CO2 is a new frontier - and one that Glumac will be pursuing further in partnership with their soon-to-be-disclosed neighbour.
The Glumac office is an airship navigating indoor air space. It isn't perfect yet seeing as the engineers are still fine-tuning the engine, but from this point on it's only getting better. More than anything, the office makes a case for the growing necessity to decentralize controls and make spaces more responsive to users and environmental conditions. 
As we continue to collect data, we'll also be learning more about the cost benefits of keeping spaces within the health standard.
For more information about the systems, materials and strategies used in the Glumac office, please click here.
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