Reducing Building Energy Use Through Tenant Engagement Pilot Study

December 2021

Our goal with the tenant engagement program is to help teach building users strategies to reduce their personal energy consumption, change departmental habits of energy use, and deliver useful information that you can use to improve your comfort. The three objectives of this campaign are to improve the energy efficiency of WSU facilities, build a community of sustainability-conscious Cougs, and improve the overall well-being and health of people working in WSU buildings. Our efforts ultimately work to demonstrate the power of WSU’s staff working together to make a significant change. The research produced by this program will continue to support other projects in the near and far future.

The following includes the tasks, deliverables, and locations of this project’s materials to support the energy-use reduction efforts on the WSU Pullman Campus. The outcomes of this project will help encourage a culture of energy efficiency and sustainability for WSU building occupants in ways that will positively affect the WSU community. 

Final Deliverables  

  1. Approve Pilot Study: IRB forms and Avista Rebates information  
    • Develop surveys for specific building occupants (students, staff, faculty–specific) to measure current perceptions, comfort, behaviors, and barriers to efficient energy use in buildings. 
    • Seek WSU IRB/Ethics approval for this study/project (this may take some time, must start ASAP). 
    • With Facilities Services, select the two buildings with the highest need of intervention, using McKinstry’s “Terrible twenty” report, WSU Facilities Deferred maintenance maps, Facilities data, GIS team, etc.  
    • Begin essential game plan for establishing baseline energy use data for ALL buildings on campus. 
    • Research on potential Avista Utility rebates. 
  2. Survey and interview results, which include findings and occupant perceptions of comfort (white paper) 
    • Surveys occurred in the Fall of 2020 (November) virtually using the Qualtrics survey platform. These surveys revealed much about occupant comfort, learning styles, and energy efficiency attitudes. After data cleaning, 2,643 complete responses were analyzed.
    • Interviews and focus groups were conducted in French, Lighty, and the Smith CUE with 65 individuals. These conversations gathered information about user interactions with their buildings, comfort, energy use, and opportunities to save energy. From this list, there were several participants interested in learning more and becoming advocates for their departments.
    • The final results and report of these surveys and interviews are attached in the final deliverables folder for this pilot study and shared with Facilities Services and NEEA.
  3. Priority Heatmap: using gathered data, we will develop a heat map of priority buildings to target based on deferred maintenance, occupancy rate, building type (e.g., lab, office, classroom, etc.), energy use, occupant perceptions of comfort to help prioritize the buildings to target during the next phase.  
    • To aggregate results from the collected surveys, interviews, and deferred maintenance on the WSU Pullman campus, heat maps were created with the intent of providing a database that will allow the comparison of occupant and energy factors between buildings. Additionally, this tool will help determine where maintenance and upgrades should be prioritized.  
    • Access to the heat maps can be found HERE. At the top right of the page, use the search function by typing “IDCL Priority Heatmap” to find the numerous versions that feature passive and active comfort strategies, cost data, and other factors.
  4. Tenant engagement program campaign, branding materials, social media plan, and implementation schedule for the Spring 2021 Semester, which will guide future efforts.  
    • Based on the findings of the occupant surveys and interviews, the ID+CL will develop and roll out the TE program and content for the Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 semesters. 
    • The WSU Tenant Engagement campaign to be implemented in the Fall of 2021, was compiled into an accessible and organized playbook document. This document serves to be a directory of all essential components of the WSU Occupant Engagement Campaign, and folders within hold informational, planning, engagement, and branding tools that will be used in the implementation. Documents that are informational in nature will guide the implementation team through an ever-changing engagement plan as in-person interactions become more possible post-COVID.  
  5. PowerPoint and educational content for energy-saving guidelines and occupant energy-saving behaviors (potential WSU Skillsoft training module development).
    • The ID+CL has curated and prepared this tenant engagement curriculum module with the help of Human and Resource Services (HRS) on WSU’s Skillsoft platform and can be found HERE (Please note you have to be a WSU employee to access skillsoft). This training includes definitions that help learners understand how energy is used and wasted in buildings, the context of how building systems work, and strategies to reduce energy use on campus while improving thermal comfort. During the implementation phase, we will be working to incentivize building departments on campus to enforce this training and the material within.   
  6. Final Report documenting success, challenges, lessons learned, and recommendations for further engagement and next proposed scope
    • Compile final integrated report (based on tenant feedback, tenant engagement process, and ASHRAE Level 2 audits) 
    • Discuss the next steps for future engagement and energy efficiency measure upgrades. 

All of our up-to-date Tenant Engagement materials can be found on the WSU Tenant Engagement Page. Take a look at our Newsletters & Posters as well!