Senior Living Project

Life and people’s daily interactions with buildings have changed significantly over the last several decades. As many buildings become more automated, some controls or building interfaces may not be intuitive, and/or certain populations may not understand how to (or be able to) use controls to maintain their comfort and preferences. As we design buildings, it is important to (1) remain cognizant of how people use buildings and why they behave the way they do, and (2) consider how to create equitable conditions for all. There is much to learn from older generations who formerly relied on passive or adaptive comfort strategies to manage interior environments: e.g., opening windows, changing clothing, and using physical building interfaces to improve 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.

The goal of this project was to learn from older generations surrounding their experiences with and within the built environment. Over 60 interviews were conducted in senior living facilities to learn about occupants’ experiences and behaviors with the built environment, building controls, and more: e.g., health, comfort, interface usability, etc. With the project results comes opportunities to educate tenants on human-centric interactions with interfaces and how to better manage comfort in old age, as well as to train occupants on energy efficiency.

Thank you to the Granger Cobb Institute for Senior Living for funding this research and supporting outreach and recruitment. This work could not have been done without the preexisting relationships established by the Institute.

Additionally, this research is done in conjunction with a larger international study under Subtask 1: Multi-aspect environmental exposure, building interfaces, and human behaviour in the International Energy Agency (IEA) Energy in Buildings and Communities (EBC) Programme’s Annex 79: Occupant-Centric Building Design and Operation. This paper represents preliminary results from the pilot study, and international results from the entire study will be presented elsewhere.