UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Occupant comfort and engagement in green buildings : examining the effects of knowledge, feedback and workplace culture Brown, Zofia Birgit


Buildings are seen as a key potential contributor to the mitigation of climate change, spurring increased attention in recent years to their design, performance and evaluation. The successful delivery of green buildings requires balancing energy and resource efficiency while providing a comfortable, healthy and productive environment within economic means. Occupant comfort and behaviour can have a significant impact on green building performance, and yet very little is known about how their comfort is shaped and behavioral patterns formed, particularly in the commercial setting. Through the post-occupancy evaluation of six Canadian office buildings, three green and three conventionally designed, this thesis examines the behavioural, socio-psychological and contextual factors that influence comfort and user engagement in green buildings. In Chapter 2, occupants’ knowledge of how the building performs and comfort is provided is compared to an expert baseline, and a gap identified between their expressed desire to learn and the information available to them. Comfort is viewed both as a trigger of changes to user behaviour (discomfort leads to action) and an outcome from changes to user behaviour (action leads to improved or diminished comfort). In Chapter 3, the incorporation of feedback into building design, implementation and use is compared for two green buildings, and found to influence occupants’ self-rated knowledge of the building, perceptions of building performance, and use of controls and complaints. Lack of effective feedback in one of the buildings leads occupants to view themselves as passive (rather than active) participants in establishing comfort conditions. In Chapter 4, a company’s move from a conventional to a green building is examined through the lens of cultural and contextual factors shaping design and operation decisions. These factors are shown to potentially significantly influence occupant comfort and behavior in the new building, with gains in satisfaction and productivity difficult to disentangle from green building or workplace design factors. Combined, these results provide evidence that knowledge, expectations, feedback and culture all play an important role in shaping occupant comfort and comfort-related behaviour in green buildings, and shed light on the limitations of current post-occupancy evaluation method to capture the complexities of user experience.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International