In 1991, West Bend Mutual Insurance Company built a new 180,000 square foot corporate headquarters in West Bend, Wisconsin. The state-of-the-art facility included nearly 500 personal environment management (PEM) units to keep their associates comfortable. The PEM units were connected to the HVAC system through the floor raised during construction to accommodate the HVAC equipment. In 2007, the company doubled the size of the facility and added over 300 more PEM units. The expansion provided West Bend corporate employees with customizable personal climate control and comfort at every desk.
In 2008, the company that manufactured the PEM units discontinued the product. Initially, this had little to no impact on West Bend because the expansion was complete, and every employee could control their environment at their fingertips. However, when the units required service, it became clear that the company would need a longer-term solution. West Bend’s primary challenge was finding a new solution to provide personal comfort to a staff of over 800 people at their centralized office location.
The second challenge centered around identifying a product that could integrate with the existing HVAC system that ran under the floors. Without it, West Bend would only provide a fan to move around the ambient air at each workstation without cooling and heating it.
For over 125 years, West Bend has placed great value on maintaining strong relationships with their policyholders, as well as with associates and agents. The organization is committed to providing a positive professional experience for all employees down to their physical comfort. Since they were forced to replace their PEM units with something new, they faced an opportunity to take things up a notch with even greater control and customization of each employee’s workspace.
West Bend was delighted to find Air Innovations MyZone personal desk environment system to replace the existing PEM units. At a high level, MyZone provided the essential features needed to provide comfort cooling and heating to employees, including adjustable louvers, forced air heating, and ambient cooling.
In addition, the MyZone units were able to integrate with the building HVAC that runs under the floor. Due to this level of flexibility, West Bend was able to provide active cooling to each employee. The integration’s only required modification was an air inlet adapter because the Air Innovations duct hose was 2.5 inches in diameter. The HVAC diffuser pipes on each desk were 3 inches. The alternative would have required ripping out the existing piping and diffusers at a high cost to the company. Instead, West Bend was able to deliver climate control through this inexpensive adaptor.
Lastly, the MyZone units are so simple to install, and West Bend could swap out the units without support from an Air Innovations engineer. Since the company has 850 PEM units, they are replacing 20 at a time, prioritizing the systems that need to be retired. They can upgrade the desks at their own pace.
Bells & Whistles
Several additional MyZone product features supported the company’s ethos of prioritizing employee satisfaction.
Utilizing only 3.9 amps, the Air Innovations units require a third of the power draw of the previous system to keep employees warm, saving West Bend on energy costs.
Task light dimming, a white noise generator, and a calendar/clock are also available to provide an even more customized experience. Employees can control these features with the non-fixed controller positioned anywhere above or below the desk. The mechanical section of the unit itself can be mounted horizontally or vertically under the desk for ease of installation and to maximize flexibility with a variety of sit/stand desk designs.
Finally, the MyZone systems are operated using a color touch screen for heating and cooling airflow, lighting control, and integrated desk-leg lift control functions versus traditional switches and levers associated with other PEM units. Applications on the touch screen can be arranged or removed based on personal preference.
Air Innovations’ MyZone personal desk environment systems are ETL certified and manufactured in North Syracuse, NY, USA.
MyZone Unit Details
- Ducted, self-contained system
- Commercial grade powder-coated aluminum
- Digital, color touch screen controls
- 0–350-watt variable forced output air heating delivering 140F temp
- 0-1500FPM ambient cooling
- MERV 7 fan filter w/ an optional 99.97% HEPA Filter
- Adjustable louvers
- Integrated multi-Linak/Other leg lift controls
- Task light dimming
- White noise generator
- 3 AMP aux contact
- Integrated motion sensor