Occupant Engagement Program Helps to Save Energy, Money

July 19th, 2023

Washington State University (WSU) runs the Energy and Comfort at WSU program through the Integrated Design and Construction Laboratory (ID+CL) to reduce energy costs, promote energy-saving behavior, and enhance occupant comfort. The program began with a survey of employees and interviews in selected campus buildings to identify and focus on behavior-based interventions to achieve low-cost and low-impact energy savings. The program uses smart power strips to automatically turn off power during non-office hours, resulting in a 40% reduction in energy use from plug-in devices like computers and monitors.

The program is unique as it prioritizes the development of relationships with building occupants and understanding their needs and preferences to drive positive changes that go beyond focusing on utility-based behavior programs. The program addresses issues like negative comfort loops, where occupants inadvertently counteract building controls, leading to inefficient energy usage. WSU plans to expand the program and enlist volunteers to support energy efficiency efforts and provide training through the Percipio platform.

Overall, the program demonstrates that energy efficiency and occupant comfort can go hand-in-hand, encouraging a shift in behavior to achieve substantial energy savings and reduce environmental impact.