Seeing is believing: an innovative approach to post-occupancy evaluation

Abstract

In recent years, human behavior and the impact on energy use have become an important consideration in energy efficiency programs both in the residential and commercial building sectors. Because of this, great advances, in both energy efficient technologies and behavior-based saving approaches, have been made. Designers are discovering innovative ways to balance technology and humans in the built environment as well as associated energy outcomes. However, oftentimes, there is still a disconnection between the occupant and building interface. This paper presents findings from a mixed-method study, which investigated adaptive comfort opportunities in an academic research building in the Northwest U.S. A pilot survey was implemented to understand occupants’ perceptions of thermal, acoustic, air quality and visual comfort, as well as opportunities for adaptive comfort behaviors (e.g., opening/closing windows). The researchers utilized a novel survey method, which included a unique photo upload functionality, as well as open-ended survey questions and follow-up email interviews, to better understand the disconnection between the occupants and the building interface. An overarching hypothesis and two research questions guided the data analysis. Findings suggested that occupants liked daylight and electric lighting (when they had control), and they enjoyed the adjustable desks. However, acoustical and visual privacy issues were frequent complaints, especially in the open-office environment. This study provides insights about the importance of understanding the building context and human-building interface, especially when implementing behavioral approaches. Helpful lessons learned from the survey are also presented.

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Notes

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    This does not include alpha-level inflations or Bonferroni adjustments.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank the study participants; we very much appreciate your participation! We would also like to thank the research assistants at both Washington State University and Carleton University. This work was inspired by the authors’ participation in IEA EBC Annex 66 and 79.

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Correspondence to Julia K. Day.

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Day, J.K., Ruiz, S., O’Brien, W. et al. Seeing is believing: an innovative approach to post-occupancy evaluation. Energy Efficiency 13, 473–486 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12053-019-09817-8

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Keywords

  • Human-building interface
  • IEQ, Post-occupancy evaluation
  • Photovoice
  • Thermal comfort
  • Visual comfort