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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Reframing environmental building design guidelines to account for user’s attitudes and behaviour Steiger, Michelle Sharon


The construction of a building negatively impacts the environment; however, its operation and use places an even greater burden on natural systems. Most environmental design guidelines provide recommendations that address the former issue, but not the latter. Despite the importance of understanding human-building interactions, this aspect is currently not well reflected in office building design guidance, and the fact that an environmentally,responsive building's success relies in large part on user behaviour, needs to be made more explicit. As such, the behaviour of workers in a Swiss and Canadian office building was studied through questionnaires. There are two important findings from the research. First, since most environmentally responsive buildings have most of their control features along the perimeter, a design that places individuals in close proximity to a window is successful because it results in greater user satisfaction with the ability to regulate thermal conditions, ventilation, and daylighting. Due to the fact that the reluctance to freely alter indoor conditions is proportional to the number of people working in a shared office, the most ideal situation - at least form a user control perspective - is an individual office for occupants. Second, the building users best dictate the extent to which technological systems should be incorporated into a design. Technology is applied most sensibly when it is able to minimize energy use without being perceptible by occupants, or compromising the users' sense of control over his/her environment. Based on this insight, certain recommendations in a set of guidelines were reframed to better acknowledge and respond to users' expectations and needs.

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