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Users in context: actions and practices in low energy buildings

Zapata-Lancaster, Maria Gabriela and Tweed, Aidan Christopher 2017. Users in context: actions and practices in low energy buildings. Presented at: Passive and Low Energy Architecture PLEA Conference 2017, Edinburgh, UK, 2-5 July 2017.

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One of the key challenges of the building industry is to achieve the expected performance in buildings in-use. The literature shows significant gaps between the as-designed and in-use building performance. There is a pervasive assumption among design practitioners and facilities managers that the occupants and their actions in buildings are a primary source of these ‘performance gaps’. This paper contests two misleading notions that underlie that assumption: 1) the view that the user is a ‘passive agent’ in the built environment; and, 2) the view that there is a ‘typical’ user that can be applied universally. This paper presents a study that investigated the occupants’ actions in four BREEAM certified buildings, comparing their as-designed and in-use performance. The study applied post occupancy evaluation techniques and user studies to investigate occupants’ practices to provide explanatory detail to monitored environmental and energy consumption data. The paper focuses on occupants’ actions and facilities management practices enacted in the everyday operation of buildings: what users do to achieve comfort, which include reconfiguration within spaces, adaptation through clothing, and operating building technologies; and, the facilities management strategies to operate the building. All of these take place against a background of institutional policies and norms. The observed actions and reported practices bring challenges to the typical representation of users and facilities management practices embedded in as-designed models of building performance. Therefore, an in-depth understanding of the context of building use considering different stakeholders’ perspectives is deemed valuable to inform effective design strategies for building performance as well as to develop interventions to reduce the energy consumption of existing buildings.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Architecture
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 20 July 2018
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2020 13:31

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