Artificial Intelligence Resolves the Office Temperature Debate

Enlighted's AI-driven controls provide personalized temperature settings, enhancing comfort and productivity while reducing energy consumption.

Franco Castaldini
September 25, 2023

As a proptech leader, there’s a question we get asked a lot: “What happens when one person is too hot and the person next to them is too cold at the office?” Disagreements over office temperature will always exist because temperature preference is super-personal and constantly changing.   

According to analyst firm Memoori in the Global Market for Workplace Experience App report, nearly 50 percent of employees want the ability to set the temperature in their workspace. As previously remote employees return to the office full or part time in 2023, they are looking to their office to provide services that enhance the flexibility, comfort, productivity, and personalization of their in-office experience. 

Enlighted addresses the ongoing temperature dilemma by providing an Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Machine Learning (ML) driven solution with localized control, greater transparency, and the ability to resolve conflicts when, or before, they occur. And in addition to employee well-being, the solution saves energy, and boosts bottom line savings with reduced facility calls 

Temperature Preference is Personal and Constantly changing 

If there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that there’sno such thing as the perfect temperaturefor everyone. Temperature disagreements happen because most buildings have a very narrow prescribed temperature setting, usually 70-72 for the whole building. At Enlighted, we refer to this as a “one size fits none” solution because in reality, our perception of what’s comfortable is constantly changing. The “perfect temperature” varies from person to person, and changes dynamically based on a number of different factors like time of day, level of activity (metabolic rate), what we’re wearing (CLO factor is the degree of insulation provided by an article of clothing), and of course, location in the office. Our goal is to empower each individual with information and options to find what works best for them, and ideally lower energy use overall at the same time. 

Personal ControlThrough a Mobile App 

The Enlighted AI Environmental Control solution is designed to reduce temperature conflict by delivering Machine Learning driven personalized control, insight, and transparency to every employee. Occupants select where they are on a floor map of the office, which provides the most localized control possible. Now a temperature change request can be made in the mobile app.  

 So, if someone is feeling cold they can decide to hit “Warm My Space,” and the temperature will not change for the whole office. The employee will get an instant 10-minute stream of warm air to their specific zone.  

Figure 1 – Enlighted Temperature Control

Machine Learning at Work  

Machine Learning as a component of AI, “learns” personal preferences and observes context, such as weather conditions, to autonomously find thresholds for comfort to maximize productivity and reduce tenant complaints. Over time, Enlighted’s solution takes the input from users and resets the heating and cooling set points according to users’ preferences.  

The patented information learning model is a proprietary implementation of a weighted average. The learning algorithm understands the temperature, setpoint (the temperature that the building will be headed to during the occupied hours), and time of day at each user input and creates a line of best fit with this data. The learning model weighs newer inputs more heavily than older inputs, and all requests have a half-life to allow new users and preferences to take hold over time.

From a network perspective, the learning algorithm reads data and stores it, and writes the setpoints for all zones. Data sampling frequency and granularity is customized for each project, but it is typically once every two to five minutes, and typically there are 5-10 points per device. Every twenty minutes, it calculates the learned heating and cooling setpoints for each zone and writes them to all of the Enlighted-enabled zones. It also creates a zone consensus, helping avoid conflicting user preferences. 

The graphic from a live space, where people used “warm my space” in the mornings. The curve displayed will continue to remember this upward preference in the days and weeks after without any additional user input. Over several months, this curve will slowly flatten out as the seasons change.

Transparency and Resolving Disagreements 

Enlighted’s Environmental Control prevents conflict by providing greater transparency into the preferences of your neighbors. The app shows all recent zone activity, which allows employees to make more informed decisions. 

In those rare instances when an employee makes a request that conflicts with the recent activity of others in their zone, it will let them know and ask them to wait a few minutes before making another request. They can then talk to their neighbors about warming the space, or if they work in one of many offices now offering more flexible seating options, they can look at the Enlighted heat map to quickly locate another area of the office that’s a bit warmer. 

How AI Impacts Energy Usage and Employee Comfort 

Companies from all industries and regions have implemented the Enlighted AI Environmental Controls solution: 

  • A global media company based in New York City implemented the solution for employee wellbeing and energy savings. There are over 500+ employee users on 30+ floors. They noted that 95% of the App requests come from open workspaces where individuals like the ability to control their space.  
  • A large Asia Pacific real estate company implemented the solution as a tenant amenity.  They have AI Environmental Controls in nine buildings with over 1500 occupant users. The solution is a way to attract tenants who want the latest amenities for employee well-being.    
  • A large global restaurant chain implemented the solution for employee wellbeing and energy savings. At their US based headquarters, currently over 650 employees on 8 floors use the solution to moderate the temperature of their spaces.  

With the 2023 trend to return to work growing across the world and industry sectors with many companies mandating two or more days back in the office, companies can provide the comfort, productivity, and personalization of their in-office experience and balance sustainability with employee and occupant comfort by putting AI driven and on-demand Enlighted environmental controls in occupants’ hands via a mobile app and solving the temperature debate

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