By Karina Mazhukhina | Aug 18, 2015

How do people really use the buildings on campus? A Green Seed Fund grant allowed a team of researchers to answer that question by developing a tool to audit users and better understand the effects of occupant behavior on building energy consumption.

Project facilitators worked in Dempsey, Savery, and Gould Hall for the year-long project observing how people interacted with the buildings. The research looked at factors such as light usage, how often a room was occupied, average room temperature and humidity, workstation power and energy usage, and movement of people in and out of the building.

To aid the process, the team installed automated monitoring as well as surveying users about their daily habits. Their findings suggest that the percentage of energy use in buildings could be reduced if users were better informed of their behavior.

Based on survey results, there is a gap between what people said they did and their actual behavior. For instance, about 60 percent of survey respondents said they turn off the lights when leaving their offices. Yet, the monitors revealed that electric lights were left on between 40 to 50 percent of the time in empty offices. 

The team is passing on its data to the Capital Projects Office, with hopes that the gap between occupants’ values, beliefs and actions will be further researched and understood. 

Green Seed Projects which were funded in the 2013-2014 year recently presented their research findings to the Environmental Stewardship Committee. This is part of a series of posts detailing the projects, including posters each team created on their findings. Click the poster image below for a full-size PDF.