There is no room for doubt that raised access floors, also known as RAFs, are witnessing an meteoric rise in popularity. The market for raised access floors is expected to reach $1.5 billion by 2025, and it currently spans approximately 25,000 square kilometers across Europe, Asia-Pacific, and North America.
There is a rationale behind the current trend. The fact that RAF makes it possible to route building services such as HVAC, power and cabling, plumbing, and so on through the void in the underfloor plenum opens up a world of possibilities for reducing operating costs and improving occupant comfort and satisfaction.
Both full-height and low-profile types provide a number of advantages, which are applicable to the construction of new buildings as well as the renovation of older structures, and these advantages include the following:
- The use of underfloor air distribution, also known as UFAD, can result in energy savings of at least 30 percent
- Enhanced comfort for the aircraft’s occupants (thanks to UFAD)
- Reduced duration of the construction processIncreased percentages of occupied rental units
- Access to power and cables is made simpler
- The modular design offers increased flexibility, allowing for changes in the arrangement of the space
Every variety of structure presents its own one-of-a-kind set of difficulties. Even though these RAF benefits are applicable to all different types of buildings in the same way, some of these categories will have a greater value than others depending on the type of structure. Let’s take a look at five different types of buildings and see how a raised flooring system can benefit each one.
Commercial Office Structures
Keeping costs under control is a necessity for commercial property owners who want to keep their businesses profitable. Property managers are under a great deal of pressure to keep both capital and operational costs under control. Construction costs are increasing at a rate of 4.2% per year, and commercial buildings are responsible for 18% of the total energy consumption in the United States.
Both labor and material expenses can be cut with raised access floors
A building that is designed to incorporate RAF can have the same interior volume while having a lower overall height thanks to a 10% average reduction in floor-to-ceiling heights. This allows for more efficient use of the available space. Because RAF cuts the typical height from the floor to the ceiling by a few inches, these incremental reductions will quickly add up over the total height of the building, giving you the equivalent of an additional floor. Therefore, if your plans call for a 12-storey building, your finished structure will have the equivalent height of an 11-storey building without the use of RAF. This will result in a significant reduction in both the costs of construction and ongoing maintenance.
As wellAdditionally, the profitability of your building is dependent on your ability to keep vacancy rates low and reduce the amount of turnover that occurs among your tenants. You’ll be in a good position to attract and keep key tenants for the long term if you install RAF in conjunction with underfloor air distribution. This is because occupant comfort is improved, cost savings are realized, and layout flexibility is increased.
Institutions of Higher Learning
Unfortunately, in the United States, educational institutions like universities and schools are frequently among the oldest buildings that are still in use today. Because of the decline in funding for public education and the increase in student enrollment, educators are being forced to keep older buildings operating for longer periods of time. According to estimates made in 2010, the typical age of a school in the United States is 42 years old.
In older buildings, raised access flooring can completely transform the quality of the indoor air, the level of thermal comfort, and overall wellness. UFAD systems have lower operating costs while delivering an ASHRAE-recognized 20% improvement in ventilation effectiveness and providing greater user control over thermal zones. UFAD systems have been adopted widely in recent years.
In general, the opportunities for bettering the quality of the air inside buildings mean that educational institutions will have the ability to extend the useful life of their structures and ensure the comfort of their occupants well into the foreseeable future.
Raised access flooring systems that are full height make it easier to install underfloor air distribution systems, which are an excellent choice for large-volume event spaces that are frequented by a large number of guests. The high cost of delivering air and conditioning it within these types of buildings, which can range from sports arenas to large convention spaces, is one of the primary concerns that arises with regard to these types of structures.
UFAD can reduce the amount of money spent on energy in a few different ways. To begin, the system can function with a significantly reduced amount of ductwork. Because there are fewer ducts for the airflow to navigate, it is met with a significantly reduced amount of resistance; as a result, the fan horsepower that is required to overcome this resistance consumes a lower total amount of energy. As was mentioned earlier, ASHRAE grants UFAD systems a 1.2 CFM (cubic feet per minute) efficiency modifier. This indicates that a UFAD system is 20% more efficient than a conventional overhead system when it comes to delivering airflow efficiency.
Second, the UFAD works by introducing airflow at floor level, taking advantage of the fact that heated air will naturally rise to the top of the room, and using this fact to its advantage. This means that you will only have to worry about conditioning the first six feet (the occupied zone), rather than introducing heated air at the top of the room and forcing it down to ground level at an additional cost. This will save you money. Because of this, you will no longer need to condition the entire volume of the room, which will result in cost savings for you.
One of the most notable characteristics of RAF is that it incorporates individualized data center raised floor panels, which provide you with an unprecedented level of flexibility in terms of managing power and cabling. This configuration is perfect for data centers because the panels provide convenient access to the underfloor plenum, which makes it possible to route cables in a straight line from one point to another without having to deviate around obstructions. Because of this, you will have a significant reduction in the costs associated with the cable and terminal connections.
It is essential for casinos to be able to alter the configuration of their gaming floors in a short amount of time. Because these establishments are typically open around the clock, the staff members need to be able to relocate the gaming machines in a relatively short amount of time.
Machines can be positioned virtually anywhere thanks to raised access floor panels that come equipped with integrated power terminals. Adding new power terminals or relocating existing ones is as easy as exchanging existing floor panels for new ones and positioning them in the appropriate locations.
Last but not least, one of the ongoing challenges faced by casinos is maintaining an acceptable level of quality in the indoor air. Given that these establishments are typically among the very last to allow smoking, it is an ongoing struggle to ensure that customers are not put off by the presence of suspended smoke particles in the air.
This issue can be remedied thanks to UFAD’s function as an air displacement system. The floor grilles allow fresh air to enter the room, and this air rises to the ceiling, where it pushes any smoke particles that may be suspended upward and out of the occupied area. This results in dramatically improved indoor air quality and ensures that the enjoyment of an individual guest who is seated at an adjacent gaming terminal is not negatively impacted by the smoke exhaled by another guest.