WSU’s Granger Cobb Institute of Senior Living sponsors research to interview older adults in the PNW

July 17, 2021

Life and buildings have changed significantly over the last several decades. Many buildings are becoming highly sophisticated with building controls and automation. On one hand, these controls can be helpful in terms of energy savings and safety, for instance. However, on the other hand, some controls may not be intuitive or certain populations may not understand how to (or be able to) use them to maintain their comfort and preferences. In addition, older generations formerly relied on passive or adaptive comfort strategies to manage interior environments: e.g., opening windows, changing clothing, and using their physical building interfaces to improve their spaces – and some of these once intuitive and simple behaviors used to support comfort, increase well-being, and to save energy, are becoming a lost art.

This pilot study implements qualitative methods to better understand seniors’ past and present interactions with the built environment. Our approach aims to gather stories, lessons learned, habits, lifestyle changes, and more, to inform future designs of senior living developments. Our team has traveled to various senior living facilities in WA to interview seniors about their experiences with the built environment, building controls, and more: e.g., occupant well-being, health, socialization, building interfaces, lifestyles across lifetimes, and adaptive comfort strategies. So far, we have gathered over 60 interview responses from both one-on-one interviews and focus groups. Our team is also working with researchers across the globe as part of the International Energy Agency’s, Energy in Buildings and Communities Programme: Annex 79 to collect stories from around the world.  Exciting results are coming soon!

The Granger Cobb Institute of Senior Living is a transdisciplinary global institute for operations excellence in senior living.