HKS study: Healthy building design increased worker satisfaction.  

When HKS Architects designed its new Chicago office in 2017, the emphasis was on worker well-being and energy efficiency. 

The goal was to create a living laboratory where HKS could study how design influences behavior, health, well-being, and overall performance. 

The company recently released a multiyear study that shows the Living Lab’s design — which received WELL Gold, LEED Platinum, and ENERGY STAR Charter Tenant Space certification — led to a significant increase in employee satisfaction and has had a positive financial and environmental impact.  

Air quality improved by 27% over the firm’s former office, and 91% of employees reported being satisfied with air quality in the new space.  

The source of some of those improvements was an innovative IMEG-designed displacement ventilation system. 

This technology delivers cool air at a low velocity through induction supply diffusers near the floor, where natural buoyancy distributes the air supply more effectively and improves indoor air quality, thermal comfort, employee productivity, and environmental impact.  

But the diffusers are larger than typical systems and would have divided an office space HKS designed as an open plan format.  

IMEG’s solution was to house the displacement system in a single, multi-functional millwork piece with ducts feeding down a column and into the side of a millwork plenum box. Air is diffused into the studio through grills toward the workstations, allowing for an open floorplan.  

The overall design resulted in approximately 50% energy savings when compared to the LEED baseline building simulation.