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Cultural Contexts of Building Use

My team at the Project on Collaboration, Technology & Organizational Practices was just awarded a $73,156 from the University of Washington Green Seed Fund. We’ll pilot a culturally contextual building energy audit to understand the impact of people on campus for making UW greener.

The Building User Audit Procedure project team recognized that while UW has implemented several initiatives to raise awareness of energy use and reduce energy consumption on campus, the university needed a framework to accurately account for the effects of user-influenced energy uses in campus buildings in order for UW to meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals. The BUAP, developed and tested through the UW’s Green Seed Fund, reveals a considerable influence of building occupants on energy use as well as a significant gap between occupants’ expected actions and their actual behaviors in terms of building and energy use. For instance, about 60% of survey respondents report that they turn off the lights when leaving their offices, while the building audits indicate that electric lights were left on between 40%-50% of the time in vacant offices. This project introduces an effective, affordable method to estimate the amount and pattern of building occupancy by means of people counters and manual observations. This helps building managers to properly supply resources to the building users or create data-driven occupancy baselines for future building construction and renovation. Further, the BUAP provides a benchmark for creating a behavior-based energy efficiency campaign and improving facility operation and maintenance practices as the UW campus moves forward in reducing overall building energy consumption.

Our “Building User Audit: Capturing Behavior, Energy, and Culture” will run through 2014.

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