Recent Projects

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.

Department of Energy BOGO

This project team will develop Building Operator: Grid-Occupant (BOGO) training modules to expand the training of entry-level building operators beyond a focus on energy efficiency and peak demand reductions, to include energy flexibility. Such grid-interactive efficient buildings (GEBs) can shed, shift, and modulate their load to provide added value to the grid. Integral to realizing the $15B/yr market opportunity of GEBs, this course curriculum must include additional content on maintaining the indoor environmental quality (IAQ) expectations of occupants, which may necessitate an occupant-centric control (OCC). These modules developed will support the development of the new Building Operator Certification (BOC) Fundamentals program targeted at vocation technical (VoTech) high schools and community colleges (CCs), to fill the vacancies of this workforce growing 10% per year faster than the national labor market. The learning modules will combine classroom and e-learning with hands-on simulators and apprenticeships. The project team will develop, pilot, assess, and disseminate the BOGO training modules to ensure they meet the needs of the industry and are scalable across educational settings.

Julia Day, Director of the ID+CL, is a listed Co-PI on this BENEFIT-funded project, specifically developing a course focusing on occupant comfort aspects of building performance.



Working with NEEA to advance energy efficiency in the PNW

The ID+CL advances innovation in practice as part of an allied regional network of university labs (UO, UW, WSU, UI, MSU) that provides technical assistance and market diffusion services to AECO building teams. The network seeks to transform design, construction, and building operational practices to advance high-performance building designs that are more comfortable for people, require less carbon and energy to construct and maintain, and enhance the health and productivity of occupants. Since 2019, we have completed several projects through the BetterBricks, Luminaire Level Lighting Controls (LLLC), Secondary Glazing Systems (SGS), and Commercial Code Enhancement programs, advancing the body of knowledge on energy efficiency and our mission of happy people + happy buildings + happy planet.  

In the fall of 2020, we worked through the LLLC program with Seattle City Light, the UW IDL, and the Lighting Design Lab on a survey that determines preferred wall station setups for LLLC and network lighting controls (NLC) systems in buildings. To better understand user preferences, and to test hypotheses surrounding wall stations and controls for these systems, project partners developed a survey specific to modern wall stations, collecting valuable market intelligence and measuring the adoption of LLLC technologies in buildings. The ID+CL helped with development of the survey, data analysis, and reporting.

With the team, it was determined that a measure we called “lighting IQ” or a baseline for understanding a user’s experience with and knowledge of using the systems, was telling of user preferences. Overall, occupants with a high lighting IQ preferred multi-scene wall stations, with scene-specific labeling and manual dim/lower functionality. Additionally, across participants, labeling preferences are likely a function of space type and a hybrid labeling approach is preferred by most users. This collaboration with the Lighting Design Lab was not only an opportunity to collaborate with others in the Lab network but allowed the ID+CL to build relationships with all members of the team. Thank you to the UW IDL, LDL, and Seattle City Light for such a great project!

In 2020, we worked with the Commercial Code Enhancement and BetterBricks program on developing case studies for the Spokane Catalyst Building, as well as the surrounding development, the South Landing to document the groundbreaking project features. Having experience with the site through our tenant engagement project (can be seen below) the ID+CL helped collect stories, lessons learned, and information on the innovative decisions made for the project, in six detailed case studies. Huge thanks are deserved for the coordination, support, and mentorship from Avista Utilities, Emerald Initiative/Edo, and McKinstry along the way!

Click to read all the Case Studies:

South Landing Development
Eco District – Sharing Energy & Information
Advanced Energy Efficiency Strategies
Clean, Reliable and Affordable Energy Future
Ambitious Reductions in Carbon and Energy Use
Inspiring Tenant Engagement

DOE: Developing Curricula for Comprehensive Design and Construction of High-Performing Energy-Efficient Residential Buildings in Washington State

This proposal aims to advance the skills required by architects and engineers to design and construct residential buildings in the Pacific Northwest that are high-performing, energy-efficient, comfortable, and affordable. This will be achieved by developing curricula offered to students and professionals in three configurations, namely a 1-year master’s degree, an online undergraduate/ graduate certificate, and a variety of online continuing education units.

WSU Facilities Tenant Engagement Program and Training

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 energy efficiency of WSU facilities, build a community of sustainability conscious Cougs, and improve overall wellbeing and health of people working in WSU buildings. Our efforts ultimately work to demonstrate the power of WSU’s staff working together to make significant change. The research produced by this program will continue to support other projects in the near and far future.

In 2020, through the WSU Facilities project titled “Reducing Building Energy Use through Tenant Engagement: Pilot Study, the ID+CL interviewed over 65 WSU employees in two targeted buildings on the Pullman campus and distributed a system-wide survey to collect perceptions of energy use and comfort on all WSU campuses. We collected over 2800 survey responses to better understand environmental and social barriers to energy conservation across the WSU community. Stories from building users revealed that more often than not, they lacked agency to control their spaces, and at times, they did not understand how to reduce their energy use. At the nexus of energy and comfort is the occupant, who may (or may not) be factored into their buildings’ energy profiles or have the ability to control their environments.

Additionally, we are tasked with creating a brand new training module for employees and students returning to campus in the Fall of 2021 through this project with WSU Facilities. Results of the surveys and interviews from the fall were used to develop the content and questions. The goal of this training module was to help inform occupants about sustainable comfort choices while in a University building, at home, and beyond. The lessons explained in the module not only help to reduce energy usage at WSU but can be implemented anywhere, for the same reason. This training will be developed for WSU’s Skillsoft training platform this spring, and rolled out for building occupants across the Pullman Campus initially, and more broadly applied in the coming year.

We will update this recent project with the link to the training and tenant engagement materials when they are available! Thank you to WSU Facilities for sponsoring this project and their dedication to comfort, energy use reduction, and collaboration through the WSU System! Additional big thanks to NEEA and the BetterBricks program for helping support this work!

Faculty Seed Grant: Energy and Comfort Perceptions in University Housing

This project implements 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 in energy use implications in buildings and potential areas for interface and design improvement.

The primary aims of this project are 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. Thank you to the Faculty Seed Grant at Washington State University for sponsoring this proposal. With the completion of this work, a dorm and apartment energy-saving campaign for the Pullman campus will be pursued.

Publications and final reports of this project and its conclusions are published in our 2020 Annual Report!


Mckinstry Tenant Engagement Program Development

Dr. Day and the ID+CL team have been 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 was 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 of strategies to save the 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.

 We were unable to implement the tenant engagement program in 2020 due to swift and unexpected work from home orders (we didn’t have any occupants to engage). However, we did successfully develop a tenant engagement playbook, which we can use once everyone has safely returned to work.


For more information on the Catalyst project to date:
Making energy-efficient buildings healthier
Catalyst Spokane
Mckinstry: Mckinstry and Avista expand south-landing development
Eastern Washington University: Catalyst building construction begins 
Spokane Journal: Two buildings rise at Catalyst site

MEP Virtual Video Tours for Building Science 1&2 (CSTM332&333)

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.

As a part of this project, Dr. Julia Day is coordinating videos to support and promote the diversity in the construction industry.