New research by the BCO reveals the industry is over-specifying buildings by up to 40%

New research by the British Council for Offices (BCO) has shown that the industry is over-specifying small power loads in offices by up to 40%. The BCO enlisted Hilson Moran to undertake a study monitoring typical loads on desks; this work will inform the forthcoming revision to the BCO Guide to Specification, due out in September 2014.

The study has revealed that far less energy is typically being used at desks than the average office building is designed to accommodate. At occupation densities of 10 sq m per person, 40% less power is actually required, and at the higher occupation densities of 8 sq m per person – although most office space use still falls between 8-13 sq m per person – research has shown that power consumption rarely exceeds 19W/sq m, 24% lower than the load recommended in the previous 2009 BCO Guide. For the first time it has been recognised that HVAC loads should be slightly lower than electrical loads to reflect the very short duration of peak electrical consumption in modern computer equipment.

In recent years, the reduction in power demand has largely been due to advancements in computer equipment and new ways of working. Most employees now work on multiple devices – tablets, smart phones and laptops – and are not often desk-bound for long periods of time. In the next few years, mobile and thin client technology is likely to reduce small power energy consumption in buildings even further.

Nigel Clark, Technical Director at Hilson Moran, said:

“We hope to see our findings reflected in the next BCO’s Guide to Specification, with a recommendation to reduce the power load allowance for desks. This is good news for developers, landlords and owner occupiers who will be able to reduce the specification of their buildings to reflect advancement in technology and new ways of working while reducing costs and helping them to meet Part L and energy saving targets.”