How 8” Underfloor Air Distribution is Changing the Game

5 May 2020 Tate
Underfloor Air Distribution

It’s no secret that Underfloor Air Distribution is beneficial for your office space. It reduces energy costs up to 20%, improves air quality and increases employee comfort. UFAD systems use the space under the raised floor to create an air distribution plenum. By delivering the air at a low velocity through the raised floor directly into the occupied zone, you receive clean air that naturally rises to a ceiling return (stratification), pulling contaminants and CO2 away from occupants. This improves the ventilation effectiveness and the air quality throughout the office by delivering an actual personal air environment. Additionally, in-floor air diffusers can be installed at individual workstations to allow employees to adjust the amount and direction of the air flow in their space. Those in-floor air diffusers can be reconfigured to accommodate changes in office layouts and to create a more flexible work environment. Aesthetically, UFAD eliminates the need for drop ceilings and reduces the amount of service distribution space, allowing for larger windows with greater daylighting and access to views.

Originally, UFAD designs incorporated air handling units (AHU) in the core of the building, which required ductwork under the access floor to distribute the air to the interior and perimeter zones, supplemented by fan powered boxes under the floor to handle the higher heat loads at the perimeter of the building. In order to accommodate this distribution equipment, the raised floor was often 12-18” high. Today, UFAD technology has evolved, allowing for lower floor heights as low as 8”. Instead of one large air handling unit, we can now use multiple smaller units, called vertical air towers or fan columns, around the core area, eliminating the need for ductwork under the floor. We can also replace underfloor fan power boxes with troughs at the perimeter of the building, decreasing the amount of space needed under the floor. Simply stated, installing equipment at the edge of the access floor, instead of under the floor, allows for lower access floor heights.

One of the greatest benefits of 8” UFAD is the ability to maximize the space between your floor and your ceiling. Every inch you can lower the floor is an extra inch in usable space. If you’re constructing a new property, this means a reduced slab-to-slab height which could allow for additional floors in a high-rise building or a reduction in material costs in low- to mid-rise buildings. This is especially important in cities that may have building height restrictions. If you’re retrofitting an existing building, it means the ability to utilize UFAD where it traditionally was not possible. By eliminating overhead ductwork and drop ceiling tiles, we can expose the existing structure, creating a cleaner, more modern design. It’s also now possible to eliminate the need for the ramps and steps typically required with raised flooring, which contributes to a more streamlined design that’s still accessible. With 8” UFAD, you still retain all the benefits of traditional UFAD, like improved indoor air quality and personal control over the airflow in your space. This is a game changer, as we see more companies looking to utilize existing buildings for their next office space, while modernizing and maximizing the indoor environment.

Many companies have already benefitted from 8” UFAD design. Goldman Sachs in Salt Lake City and San Francisco incorporated 8” raised floors in their retrofit offices. They were able to maximize the floor-to-ceiling space in an existing building, while still maintaining the benefits of UFAD. The Soto office building in San Antonio utilized 8” UFAD to eliminate overhead ductwork and electrical services for a more modern design aesthetic to show off their mass timber structure, and to reduce the building height per floor in their buildout.
The ability to install Underfloor Air Distribution under an 8” floor will revolutionize the way offices are developed. It makes it possible for existing buildings to add raised access floors with UFAD, when that option may not have been available before, and is a cost-effective construction solution. Now, more companies can see the benefits of Underfloor Air Distribution, creating a healthier environment for their employees.

For more information about 8” Underfloor Air Distribution for your next project, give us a call at 800-231-7788 or email us at Stay tuned for the next installment of our 8” UFAD blog series, where we will go into more detail about the benefits of UFAD under a low finish floor height.

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