Product / system manufacture
Product / system supply
Outside the UK
FBD Insurance plc
FBD Iinsurance refurbishment project team
Crossflow Air Conditioning
Established in the late 1960s, FBD Insurance plc is one of the largest general insurance companies operating in the Republic of Ireland. The company is headquartered at FBD House in Dublin, which covers around 5,000 square metres of open plan office space over four floors and provides accommodation for about 500 people.
FBD House is predominantly southern facing. The front elevation experiences heat gain for most of the day, while the rear is in shadow, leading to internal environmental control issues. People seated to the front can get too warm while in the same open plan area, people seated to the rear can be cold.
FBD House was built in two parts; the old part in the late 1970s, before the building was doubled in size in 2000. Air conditioning was retrofitted to the old part of the building in 2000, and the design of the solution at the time was complicated by very tight floor-to-ceiling clearance and limited access ducts.
The retrofit was done with rigid ducting and grilles running along a central spine across the building, supplying air to each side of the open plan office spaces. From day one, employee complaints about draughts and uneven cooling were a constant.
Over time, remedial work was attempted – design reviews were undertaken, but the ceiling height and duct access issues consistently returned the design to one based on a central spine.
FBD tried changing grilles, thermostat location, adjustable nozzles, different velocity settings, operation and control changes, both centralised and localised, personnel moves and fit-out changes all with limited results.
Ultimately, employee comfort was not deliverable. Employees would tape up grilles and arguments between employees about air conditioning became a management issue. Elements of the air conditioning system were switched off most of the time. Heating defaulted to an old radiator-based system and cooling was only switched on when conditions were close to intolerable, with limited effect.
In 2014, business needs provided the driver for a refurbishment project covering three floors at FBD House. The project increased occupation density, so it was essential that ventilation and air conditioning were part of the project scope.
The Refurbishment Project team took a design and build approach. A challenge to find a solution to the ‘The Air Conditioning Problem’ was presented on a competitive basis. Only one solution directly addressed the core issues: zone control and employee sensitivity to airflows.
The differentiators for the winning bid were understanding of the core issues and efficiency in re-tasking elements of the existing installation.
Padraig Hanvey of Crossflow Air Conditioning took the time to listen to FBD, research potential solutions and present a solution that retained the design fundamentals which were not practical to change, reused existing pipework and found a way to deliver treated air to ensure employee comfort.
Zone Control is based on new centralised master controllers that provide browser-based, real-time information and a scheduler for the FBD Facilities Team. Control is fully customisable by area. Quick changes are possible if exceptions arise.
The smart element of the solution is that air delivery is based on Prihoda fabric ducts and not traditional grilles. Air is filtered through micro-perforations along the fabric ducts. This disperses air velocity gently along the entire surface of the duct. The system's design flexibility allowed FBD to deal with architectural, interior design and construction issues.
Prihoda and Crossflow worked with the FBD design team to establish the financial viability of the solution and provided detailed proposals including air pattern / velocity graphics to address FBD’s primary concerns about employee comfort. Samples were provided promptly for architectural / interior design colour approval.
Today, FBD has an air conditioning solution that works, summer and winter.
The open plan floor areas are comfortable to work in and complaints are a rare exception rather than an everyday occurrence.
"What made the difference was a willingness to try something different, the Prihoda fabric ducts work," said Derek Ivory, Facilities Manager at FBD insurance.