This project will implement a cross-disciplinary mixed methods study to investigate adaptive comfort opportunities in university-owned and managed residential buildings to better understand the human-building interface, resulting energy use implications in buildings, and potential areas for interface and design improvement.
An online survey and interviews will be implemented to understand occupants’ perceptions of thermal and visual comfort, as well as respective adaptive opportunities and corresponding behaviors (e.g. opening/closing windows). The survey integrates a novel photovoice approach to visually catalog and understand the different types of interfaces available to occupants; this qualitative method is commonly used in community-based participatory research to document and reflect reality.
The researchers will utilize this novel method, as well as open-ended survey questions and follow-up interviews, to better understand 1) what is really happening in buildings, and 2) why is there a disconnect between the occupants and the building interface?
Ultimately, findings from this study will provide major insights about the importance of: (a) the human-building interface, (b) design missteps and lessons learned, and (c) understanding the building context when implementing behavioral approaches. This research has the potential to greatly improve university-managed residence design and controls by developing a better understanding of how design impacts occupant comfort and perception of personal control. In turn, this new knowledge will be disseminated to the building design community, including architects, interior designers, industrial designers, and engineers.
Great thanks to Washington State University’s Housing and Residence Life Department for allowing this study to be possible and for the opportunities presented by its findings in the future. With completion of this work, a dorm and apartment energy saving campaign for the Pullman campus will be pursued.
Related work using the photo-voice method:
- O’brien, W., Schweiker, M., & Day, J. K. (2019). Get the picture? Lessons learned from a smartphone-based post-occupancy evaluation. Energy Research & Social Science, 56. doi:10.1016/j.erss.2019.101224
- Day, J., Ruiz, S., O’Brien, W., & Schweiker, M. (2018). Seeing is believing: A mixed Methods Approach to Understanding the Human-building Interface. Paper presented at the ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings.
Dr. Day and the ID+CL team will be responsible for assisting with the development of a targeted and re-envisioned version of McKinstry’s occupant engagement module of the powerED program to support the zero-energy and zero-carbon goals of the Catalyst building and similar multi-tenant green and high performance facilities. The primary goal of this project is to develop a tenant engagement and education program for the multi-tenanted Catalyst building to promote energy efficiency, health and community within the South Landing development. These efforts will encourage a culture of energy efficiency and sustainability for Catalyst building occupants in ways that will positively impact the South Landing Development. As part of this program, tenants will learn a variety strategies to save energy within the building (e.g. human-building interface and interaction with energy usage including heating/cooling, plug loads, lighting, etc.). Tenants will also learn sustainable behaviors and associated personal and facility impacts on the environment, health, utility costs, and the surrounding community. Ideally, tenants will also take lessons and tools learned in the Catalyst building and implement sustainable behaviors in their own homes to promote energy and money saving, further spreading the values of the Catalyst building and South Landing Project.
For more information on the Catalyst project to date:
Mckinstry: Mckinstry and Avista expand south-landing development
Eastern Washington University: Catalyst building construction begins
Spokane Journal: Two buildings rise at Catalyst site
Lectures with pictures and words do not suffice when it comes to truly understanding the complexities of mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) systems in buildings. Oftentimes, students require hands-on experiences and field trips to fully grasp these intricate concepts. Field trips are an ideal way for students to experience different types of projects, equipment and MEP aspects of design and construction. However, the feasibility of getting large groups of students into the mechanical and electrical rooms of a building is a challenge (especially when these courses typically have 95-100 students).
This project advocates for the creation and curation of pre-recorded video tours of construction sites, existing buildings, and emerging technologies to provide students with a deeper understanding of best practices. Through experiential learning inspired videos, the building science courses will gain diverse educational material that capitalizes and builds upon the school’s strong and valued industry partnerships.