Raised Floor System: The Need for Adaptive Whole Building Design

The workplace has shifted towards collaborative spaces and technology changes the way we work every few years —  how can something as static as a building evolve along with everything else?

Sustainability and eco-friendly design is not a reactive solution.

At least it shouldn’t be.

However, in raised floor construction, there are unique challenges. While materials can be reused for different projects, there are limitations, especially in commercial applications where different tenants will have completely different needs.

It’s also common to have the same tenant that ends up having different needs as their business expands and technology evolves.

Things change.

The problem though is that change often requires more construction, and new construction often means more waste and the need for more materials.

Most products are not intentionally designed to be reusable, which begs the question: if the technology is constantly changing — and that change brings on new ways to look at how we work and design office space — shouldn’t we rethink how we are building those spaces to begin with?

Challenges in Whole Building Design

Dynamic flexibility and open, collaborative workspace are two Whole Building Design trends that have shifted the way commercial office space is designed worldwide.

There are inherent challenges in open spaces, especially when it comes to technology. For example, where do you put all the wires and cabling?

Floors, walls, power poles or ceilings. Those are your options.

You only have so many walls, and with an open design, you need a way to run power to the middle of the space. Walls will not work there.

Installing cabling in the ceilings (drop ceilings) can work, but reconfiguring any cabling is a massive headache. It requires going up and down a ladder. Installing drop ceilings means you also lose space, which competes with the open design trend people value.

Power poles are another option, but they are a fixed option. If you rely on getting power to your open spaces with power poles, then you are forced to adapt to your building, versus having your space adapt to your needs.

That leaves the floors.

What is a Raised Floor System?

A raised floor system essentially falls into two different categories.

Traditional post and panel is what everyone thinks about when they hear “raised floor”. This is a floor that was designed for cooling and airflow. It’s a system that, once installed, is basically there to stay. This type of design dates back to the 1960s and really hasn’t evolved much from the original design.

A low profile raised floor is a system designed for cable management.

As you can see, a raised floor system is a flooring solution that allows for easy deployment of cabling throughout a building, with the added benefit of having the ability to re-configure the floor based on construction changes or other needs. This makes it an ideal solution for commercial flooring because it can be re-used or even removed and re-installed in a new location — making it one of the most eco-friendly building materials.

Raised Floor System Applications

There are two primary applications for raised floors:

Post and Panel: Underfloor air distribution

IT data centers and computer rooms typically use raised floors for underfloor air distribution. Server racks require a lot of power and can generate a lot of heat, which means the room the equipment is stored in needs to be able to distribute hot air out of the room and circulate cool air in to keep the equipment at an optimal temperature.

Low-profile Raised Floor: Cable management

A low-profile raised floor system is the ideal solution for cable management. Low-profile access floors allow wiring to be run throughout a building efficiently, without the added cost and construction time of installing a drop-ceiling or other cable management solutions.

Conclusion

Eco-friendly design is not an all-in-one solution. True green building design has to encompass each one of the building systems — from the floors to the ceilings — and choose materials based on total environmental impact. Solutions like Gridd by FreeAxez are innovative and transformative, and will hopefully inspire similar ideas in Whole Building Design construction trends.