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Shaping Occupant Experiences  

Understanding Automation Preferences through Perceptual Decision Making


In this project, ‘perceptual decision making processes’ are studied as the determinants of occupant behaviors for quantifying commercial building energy consumption as a result of human-building systems interactions. Understanding how and why occupants interact with building systems is crucial for developing behavior models to be used in simulations for increased comfort and energy savings, as well as for quantifying the energy

implications of these interactions. Objectives of this project are to develop a framework for investigating decision-making processes to create an insight about how occupants behave and respond to coupled HVAC-lighting/daylighting systems-driven indoor environmental stimuli changes, and to optimize building energy consumption and occupant comfort by using mathematical models. A quantitative empirical study is performed for gathering information about decision-making processes for determining human-system interactions and their energy consumption implications in commercial buildings. Both human subject experiments (including physiological and neurophysiological measurements), and surveys are used for investigating the decision-making processes of occupants. A co-simulation environment is developed for a holistic energy analysis of commercial buildings for predicting the energy consumption implications of occupant decision-making models. Decision making processes (i.e., stimuli-response driven behavior models) are mathematically modeled by the derived heuristic rules to coordinate the integration of subsystems to co-simulation.

Status: Completed

Influence of Lighting Control and Blind Adjustments on Behavior 

The goal of this project is to better understand occupants’ behavior and interactions with building systems with the objective of introducing new design and operation approaches where end-user information can be used to reduce the energy consumption in buildings. For buildings to be more energy efficient, it is important to further understand the relationships between occupant behavior and building systems and features.

In our work, we use immersive virtual environments (IVEs) to collect accurate and realistic end-user behavioral information. We introduce a novel user-centered framework that integrates end-user behavioral information to improve the design and operation of office buildings. Through a set of experimental studies, we further (1) analyze the influence of manual vs. semi-automated lighting control options; (2) collect participants’ lighting preferences and incorporate such preferences in the design of a building façade; and (3) investigate the influence of “default settings” on participants’ propensity to keep or adjust the lighting settings. Through the proposed framework, we further highlight the importance of user centered design and provide a platform to design teams and facility managers to accurately integrate end-user information into the design and operation of buildings.

Status: Completed

Impact of Building Performance Data Visualization on Occupant Choices

The goal of this project is to better understand the impact of non-energy consumption data visualization on occupant choices. We define non-


energy consumption data as systems data (room temperature, room lux levels and etc.), which are not directly related to energy consumption. In other words, we are providing the users with more information about the building systems to affect their choices and understanding of their impacts in the built environment. We use lighting systems related data, since lighting systems are the second largest energy consumers in commercial buildings. We use Immersive Virtual Environments to present the data visualization techniques within the building boundaries and based on occupants’ choices. We presente the information together and separately and measure the impact of different information visualization techniques on occupant choices.


Status: Completed

Enabling Human-Building Communication to Promote Pro-environmental Behavior 


Occupants and their behaviors are one of the most significant contributors to the environmental impacts. How occupants interact with building energy and service systems and respond to environmental discomfort directly affect the operation of buildings and thus the buildings' impacts on the environment. Modifying occupant behaviors toward adaption of pro-environmental behaviors such as adaption of day-lighting instead of artificial lighting, can significantly affect environmental impacts of buildings and communication intervention strategies to promote sustainable behaviors can result in significant reductions of these impacts. We aim to transform buildings into interactive living spaces that communicate with

their occupants and influence the way that they behave in the buildings. Key decisions in developing successful communication efforts should include selecting trustworthy sources, choosing message strategies, and determining optimal modalities for the delivery of pro-environmental messages. We investigate if making human-building communication more social would increase the effectiveness of communication intervention strategies. We use both immersive virtual environments and field experiments to examine the effects of incorporating social features in design of human-building communication strategies. Social features represent the ways humans interact with each other; for or example, we investigate the effects of adapting compliance gaining techniques (e.g., foot in the door) for the messaging strategy and inclusion of social cues (e.g., voice and face) to the delivery of messages on increasing adherence to the pro-environmental messages.


Status: Completed

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