Building Occupants Sabotage Energy Savings

December 5, 2014 By Linda Hardesty

2014-12-04_16-17-48A doctoral student at Washington State University conducted research showing that people often negate the benefits of energy efficiency design in buildings.

For example, the researcher, Julia Day, once visited an office that was designed with daylighting strategies to save on lighting energy, but found that all of the blinds were closed and numerous lights were switched on. It turned out that cabinetry and office furniture blocked many of the blind controls, reports WSU News.

Day is now an assistant professor at Kansas State University. She told WSU News that there’s a gap between energy savings technologies and the actual occupants of buildings. Even commercial buildings that are certified as high-performance in energy efficiency through Energy Star or the US Green Building Council may be getting only limited energy benefits if the occupants’ corporate culture negates the savings.

Photo of blinds via Shutterstock

2 comments on “Building Occupants Sabotage Energy Savings

  1. The state owned organisation I used to work forin the UK, an electricity power distribtution company called MANWEB, in the late 1960s had a high performance HQ buit. It did not need any heating until the outside temp drops to minus 4 centigrade. Natural light was allowed in via carefully designed windows such that heat gain was minimized – but reductions in artificial lighting maximized. It would have been impossible to cover the sensors since they were properly located. Neither was it possible to open any windows (why bother with a/c?). So a late 1960s deisgn that showed the possible – interesting how we have progressed since then.

  2. Don’t damn the occupants, chances are they had little to do with the placement of the furniture. Corporate interior designers know little about building science or practical engineering. I know of one building where a floor full of interior designers specified system furniture that went right up against the windows and walls — walls with fancoil units. Those units have been starved for air for years, and comfort complaints have been common for years, and the facilities management folks (who understand the issue) just say, “heal thyself”. But they refuse to.

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