10/30/2003

The Evolution of Access Flooring

Forty Years of Development Has Lowered Cost, Environmental Impact, and Construction Time

 
Access Floors OnSite SolutionsA top-secret facility maintained by Lockheed Martin was being redesigned and reconfigured. The flooring requirements went from carpet to a hard surface. To compound the problem, only Lockheed personnel were allowed on the premises.  Access Floors OnSite delivered its mobile unit outside the gates of the facility. Lockheed Martin personnel removed the access floor panels from the facility and delivered them to the mobile unit. The carpet surface was stripped and the panel surfaces were prepared and a new high-pressure laminate was applied. A factory finish was delivered on-site. Lockheed Martin personnel re-installed the new floor panels in the facility virtually overnight.For more information on access flooring, contact Access Floors OnSite at (888) 605-6061 or visit (www.accessfloorsonsite.com).

Following is a greatly expanded version of the column that ran in the November 2003 issue of Buildings, page 24.

The access floor industry, sometimes referred to as raised flooring, was born in the early ’60s in response to special environmental concerns within large mainframe computer rooms. In addition, the massive amount of cooling and air-conditioning required by supercomputers created the need for a flooring system that allowed air circulation, wire management, and load-bearing support for the heavy equipment. The early versions of raised/access flooring used simple steel plates supported by structural steel suspended over the existing floor. Soon the industry adopted the two-foot by two-foot panel format with adjustable pedestal and lateral understructure support, still used today. Until the late ’70s, industry growth was fueled by the use of computers in both government and industry.  The late ’80s would see Wall Street explode and bring with it a demand for additional and larger trading operations and the infrastructure needed to support them. At the same time, the personal computer drove access flooring into general office buildings. Computers occupied nearly every desktop, requiring Intra and Internet access and e-mail and fax machine capability. Open office architecture, free of walls or power poles, improved the work environment and thus productivity. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, on Jul., 9, 2003, more and more building designers were turning to raised flooring to give the constantly complaining, overheated, and shivering office masses control over personal climates. Raised-floor ventilation delivered conditioned air through adjustable vents in each workspace.  To address the rising need of quieter environments in the workplace, the panels were filled with concrete to dampen the noise. With critical services located under a continuous floor system, an office could be reconfigured in minutes rather than days, thus lowering building life-cycle costs.The ’90s saw a boom in the telecommunications industry overall with the exponential growth of Internet-related services. Web farms were being built literally around the clock, driving access floor manufacturing to new heights. In addition, high-tech environments, clean rooms, biomedical, microelectronic, pharmaceutical, and laboratory facilities fueled the need for greater flexibility in electrical and HVAC system access and design. The advanced flooring systems that were manufactured used several different components, giving a building owner a choice among concrete-filled or hollow-steel panels, metal-clad wood-core panels, or, in some instances, complete die-cast aluminum components. This Bear market of the 2000s would bring downturns in all industries. The focus has turned inward to cost savings and ever-increasing environmental concerns. Building owners and facilities managers are looking for ways to refurbish their facilities rather than relocate or replace them. In a recent research report by Buildings magazine (“Modernization in the Buildings Market,” March 2003), 83.1 percent of survey respondents are currently involved in modernization projects, while only 64.8 percent are involved in new construction projects. Topping the list of products to be purchased for modernization projects are carpet at 81 percent, and hard-surface floors at 50.6 percent.  Greener/smarter buildings, and the business world’s obsession with budget constraints, have spurred a new evolution in the access flooring industry. Advances in adhesives and equipment have enabled a new on-site rejuvenation process. While the access floor infrastructure endures, the finishes and wear surfaces applied to the panels do not. In a stand-alone mobile unit delivered to the site, building owners can now reuse existing floor panels by removing, refinishing, and reinstalling them over a period of days rather than weeks or months. By refinishing on-site, handling and transportation costs and the cost of a new understructure and its installation are eliminated. In addition, there is no worker downtime or complaint or environmental hazard from airborne contaminants, particulates, or out-gassing. Recycling panels also uses less energy, fewer raw materials, and minimizes accumulation in landfills. From a fiscal and environmental standpoint, clearly it makes sense to reuse and refinish at the source.Dotti L. Campbell is director of sales and marketing at Access Floors OnSite (www.accessfloorsonsite.com), Charleston, SC.
 


Visit our website today to learn about the design flexibility of a Morton building and the endless possibilities of partnering with our designBUILD team.


Wood construction is both cost and energy efficient. Check out Morton Buildings and our designBUILD team online today to discover all the benefits of post-frame construction.


When choosing a metal-clad building for your next construction project, consider Morton Buildings, Inc., and their designBUILD team, we’ll make your dream a reality.

We Can Help You Reduce Energy by 30%

Our mission is to help our customers manage their buildings' energy costs, improve reliability, and enhance performance while having a positive impact on the environment.
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Tennant Company is a recognized leader in designing, manufacturing and marketing solutions that help create a cleaner, safer, healthier world. With thousands of satisfied customers already using award winning ec-H2O technology, why not see what you're missing? Test ec-H2O on your soils in your facility. Get a free demo.


Tennant Company is a recognized leader in designing, manufacturing and marketing solutions that help create a cleaner, safer, healthier world. With thousands of satisfied customers already using award winning ec-H2O technology, why not see what you're missing? Test ec-H2O on your soils in your facility. Get a free demo.

 

Replace core drilling with Connectrac In-Carpet and On-Floor Wireways, the proven connectivity solution in open interior spaces of all kinds. These elegant low-profile wireways are great for AV / telecom connectivity wherever it’s needed.

 


Visit our website today to learn about the design flexibility of a Morton building and the endless possibilities of partnering with our designBUILD team.


Wood construction is both cost and energy efficient. Check out Morton Buildings and our designBUILD team online today to discover all the benefits of post-frame construction.


When choosing a metal-clad building for your next construction project, consider Morton Buildings, Inc., and their designBUILD team, we’ll make your dream a reality.

We Can Help You Reduce Energy by 30%

Our mission is to help our customers manage their buildings' energy costs, improve reliability, and enhance performance while having a positive impact on the environment.
CLICK HERE to find out how.

 

Add highly responsive multi-zone comfort to any building project, in any climate. Our CITY MULTI H2i R2- and Y-Series VRF systems give you flexibility to fit the needs of any building. Enjoy 100% heating capacity at 0°F outdoor ambient, and 85% heating capacity at -13°F outdoor ambient.  For more information, log on to www.mitsubishipro.com


Tennant Company is a recognized leader in designing, manufacturing and marketing solutions that help create a cleaner, safer, healthier world. With thousands of satisfied customers already using award winning ec-H2O technology, why not see what you're missing? Test ec-H2O on your soils in your facility. Get a free demo.


Tennant Company is a recognized leader in designing, manufacturing and marketing solutions that help create a cleaner, safer, healthier world. With thousands of satisfied customers already using award winning ec-H2O technology, why not see what you're missing? Test ec-H2O on your soils in your facility. Get a free demo.

 

Replace core drilling with Connectrac In-Carpet and On-Floor Wireways, the proven connectivity solution in open interior spaces of all kinds. These elegant low-profile wireways are great for AV / telecom connectivity wherever it’s needed.

 


 
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