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In the past, the prevailing characteristic of new and more sophisticated controls was to reduce the influence of the occupants. Thermostats controlling individual spaces and operable windows were removed. The result was that customer needs were reduced to standards. The customer was left with other no means to control his or her environment than to complain.
In the absence of individual controls, facility managers should try to create ways for occupants to still influence their environment. Providing opportunities for occupants to set the quality agenda for their work environment through surveys, focus groups or interviews will go a long way to minimizing indoor air quality complaints. They are ways to replace individual controls with communications.
Facility managers can show a link between what the customer wants in the way of environmental quality and the operating strategies they employ. This gives control back to the occupants, reduces complaints and creates a partnership in environmental quality management. It is a no cost way to improve satisfaction and complements any planned capital improvements over time you may have in place that will return some control to occupants over their environment.