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Conference papers

29 APR 2018

Occupants’ perceptions of indoor environmental conditions

This paper presents a qualitative study that investigated occupants’ practices in two BREEAM Excellent buildings. This research investigated the levels of satisfaction of the building occupants with the thermal, lighting and aural environment and the actions taken by occupants to achieve comfort indifferent seasons.

Seasonal building user surveys were applied to identify the occupant practices to achieve comfort and their satisfaction with the indoor conditions. Indoor environment conditions were monitored as reference to the occupants’ responses. The participants reported taking a range of actions to enhance their comfort, even in situations where they had limited access to controls to modify their environment; for example, exerting personal adaptation and rearranging spaces to achieve thermal comfort.

Like prior research, the study found that occupants’ practices were not motivated by energy efficiency concerns. Occupants tend to adopt practices with the aim to improve their comfort and enable them to carry the everyday activities in the building, even if those actions defeat the energy saving intentions. Energy efficiency strategies that do not consider occupants’ activities and preferences tend to be ignored or bypassed in the daily building operation, even where the control strategies limit the interaction between the occupant and the building technologies.

Energy efficiency initiatives could benefit from considering the existing occupant practices to achieve comfort and promote the non-energy benefits of good building performance (i.e. occupants’ health and wellbeing) in order to motivate stakeholders to adopt practices that contribute to energy efficiency.