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Building Flexibility

How Raised Flooring Systems Can Lower Construction, Upgrade, and Maintenance Costs

Flexible building infrastructure allows your business to evolve.

As the green building movement and circular economy continue to expand and grow, many in the AEC industry seek products, materials, and systems to provide “building flexibility” for today’s tenants and beyond.

For the last two decades, “building flexibility” was a subjective term typically referring to large areas that could easily be subdivided or expanded quickly to meet a tenant’s square footage needs. However, over the last few years, building flexibility has come to include infrastructure systems such as plumbing, mechanical, and electrical & data systems.  

In fact 2008, a new indicator called the Flexibility Degree (FlexD)¹ was made available to the AEC industry. The formula works for individual spaces, space units, or the entire building or complex. The FlexD is especially helpful for determining the profitability between different installation or configuration options.

Building flexibility is most effectively addressed during the design and construction stages and includes three unique components for consideration:

Service flexibility – spaces get designed to be quickly adaptable or upgradeable to meet the ever-changing needs of the tenants, employees, and customers.

Modifiability – the easier a space is to modify, the lower the potential remodeling and updating costs for the property owner as tenants come and go.

Long-term adaptability – without needing major renovations, buying or leasing the space or building becomes easier for prospective tenants. 

One building system that consistently improves flexibility scores is an access flooring system, also known as a (low-profile) raised flooring system.

What is Access Flooring?

Today’s access flooring systems (also called raised flooring systems, low-profile raised flooring systems, low-profile flooring, or adaptive cabling distribution systems) share a common ancestor, the computer floor. 

Traditional raised computer floors use a series of pedestals, stringers, and heavy flooring panels to create an elevated floor above the concrete slab. The created void typically ranged from 12″ -24″ and created an air plenum to provide cooled air to the massive mainframe computers of the time. As computer technology continually improved, and workplace requirements continued to evolve, the air plenum requirement disappeared, leaving us with today’s modern access flooring systems. 

While low-profile raised flooring systems might be new to you, in 2008, the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) and the Construction Specifications Canada (CSC) designated new Master Format numbers and titles for standardized raised flooring systems:

  • 09 69 00 – Raised Access Flooring
  • 09 69 13 – Rigid Grid Access Flooring
  • 09 69 33 – Low Profile Fixed Height Access Flooring

While raised flooring systems still create a void above the concrete substrate, today that gap measures no more than 3”. This space is ideal for running the data cabling that today’s modern offices rely on to conduct business. 

  • Internet
  • Email
  • Virtual meetings
  • Remote workers
  • File sharing
  • Audio
  • Video
  • Wireless networks
  • GPS services

As these services require upgrades or modification by a new tenant, the access flooring system minimizes construction costs. The need to open walls or ceilings, trench, or core drill the slab is gone with a raised flooring system. The inconvenience to the adjoining tenants is minimal, including dust and noise complaints.

Factoring Access Flooring Maintenance into Your Build Budget

Access Flooring Systems

A raised flooring system allows your facilities team to reconfigure spaces as tenant needs change cost-effectively. This built-in adaptability boosts FlexD scores dramatically, as the access flooring systems can benefit virtually every tenant and their business model.

Besides lower future construction expenses, here are 4 reasons why a raised flooring system makes sense for many projects and property owners.

Durability

Access flooring systems that feature 100% USA steel provide a stable and durable building system that lasts longer than other options in the marketplace. Steel flooring systems also require less maintenance and adjustment, saving the property owner more money year after year. Raised flooring is superior for commercial offices, municipal buildings, and academic institutions.

Better Office Aesthetics

Although Gridd recommends modular flooring to maintain access and flexibility, most raised flooring systems work with a variety of floor finishes including.

  • Carpet tiles
  • Vinyl Composition tile (VCT)
  • Laminate flooring
  • Luxury vinyl tiles (LVT)

As a result, spaces that incorporate a raised flooring system are as comfortable, inviting, and visually pleasing for employees, customers, and visitors as those that don’t.

Improved Performance

A raised flooring system will improve the performance of your leased spaces since your facilities management team can now perform tech changes and reconfigurations quickly. This means access to the fastest data transfer speeds available for the tenant, boosting employee productivity.

Uncompromised Flexibility

Access flooring systems can help simplify the layout and design process for each tenant space. As the tenant’s cabling needs change, simply lift the floor finish to access the cabling infrastructure components to add/delete a group of workstations, add cabling for a new technology platform, or quickly perform required maintenance to your data infrastructure.

How the Gridd® Adaptive Cabling Distribution® System Works

Unfortunately, not all access flooring systems are created equal. For several reasons, Gridd is consistently called the “best of breed” among raised flooring systems.

True low-profile design – available in two standard heights of 1.6″ and 2.75″, Gridd works on virtually any project from new construction, historical renovations, or even small tenant improvement projects without affecting ceiling heights or structural elements.

All-steel, made in the USA – unlike other systems that utilize plastic to reduce costs, Gridd uses only 100% USA steel to provide unmatched durability and strength with minimal maintenance.

Reconfigurable – easy access to the entire cabling system is paramount no matter how often a tenant or their tech needs change. With Gridd, you can reconfigure spaces for new tenants in weeks instead of months.

Integrated power access – in addition to handling your data cabling needs, The Gridd raised flooring system can also manage your power management cabling needs.

The Gridd Solution Includes Power and Visibility

When the manufacturer performs the necessary integration work, owners can expand future construction savings and improve accessibility to include their electrical infrastructure systems. Gridd® Power moves the electrical power distribution network beneath the floor and into a raised flooring system alongside the data cabling.

Gridd Power provides power management flexibility through an integrated 50-amp modular bus system designed and approved to work seamlessly with the Gridd Raised Flooring System. During the comprehensive planning stage, the exact number of feeds and tracks is determined based on the project size and tenant type.

Currently, Gridd Power is available in three different configurations to meet a company’s needs while incorporating flexibility for future growth and expansion.

You can learn more about national electrical code requirements for a raised flooring system here.

Because flexibility is a crucial feature of the Gridd systems, the sub-trades can quickly perform data and electrical changes via “plug-and-play connection points”, established during the extensive pre-planning process.

Gridd® Mobile further simplifies changes and updates involving facility management teams, contractors, and independent or third-party suppliers and vendors. Gridd Mobile utilizes Augmented Reality (AR), allowing individuals to see the exact location of every power, voice, and data cabling component on their smart device.

Additionally, Gridd Mobile provides convenient access to your project’s as-built drawings, site images, and product information tomorrow, next year, or twenty years from now.

Why Invest in a Higher Quality Option?

Change is the only constant, so companies must remain flexible and adaptable to changing needs. Based on current trends such as the IoT (Internet of Things) and the growth of smart cities across the globe, it will require continuous upgrades to existing power and data management systems.

Construction systems that benefit and improve a building’s service flexibility, modifiability, and long-term adaptability, will see a higher ROI, while providing lower maintenance, upgrade, and construction costs over the entire building lifecycle.

Maintenance – the steel-raised flooring system requires virtually no maintenance after the initial installation. Without screws, adhesives, or specialized fasteners, the system provides quick and easy access to cabling or electrical component maintenance, inspections, and testing.

System upgrades – are no longer a daunting and exhaustive torture for engineers and designers. Simply remove the floor covering to access the cabling and power management systems. Gridd incorporates plug-and-play simplicity to work on minor upgrades or an entire reconfiguration project quickly.

Lower construction costs – raised access flooring eliminates the demo, dust, and noise of typical construction methods. With the work confined to only the affected space, adjoining tenants remain undisturbed as the upgrade continues.

Shorter project timelines – minimize the inconvenience to adjoining tenants and their customers. And quickly translate into increased savings and improved flexibility for the property owner.

Reusable – the entire Gridd system can also be carefully removed and reinstalled at another physical location if needed. This extends the product’s lifecycle, and the all-steel construction makes Gridd 100% recyclable.

The access flooring system wins every time by comparing the initial raised flooring costs to the potential aggregate savings generated over the building’s lifecycle. If you would like to learn more about low-profile raised flooring systems or discuss how Gridd can benefit your next project, connect with a Gridd advisor today.

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