Now in its twelfth year, the Livable Buildings Award recognizes projects that demonstrate high occupant satisfaction, excellent design, and innovative operation strategies. This year, we are pleased to announce the Rocky Mountain Institute Innovation Center as the top winner, with an honorable mention for the Pomona College Millikan Science Building. These buildings, along with all of the finalists, received highly positive feedback from the buildings’ users, as demonstrated by the CBE Occupant Survey. In fact, these buildings received the first and second highest rankings for satisfaction with the buildings overall. Read more
It’s exciting when we have the opportunity to experience new sustainable buildings first hand. Last week, while attending the CHESC conference at UC Santa Barbara, along with other attendees I stayed in newly completed student housing designed to meet LEED Platinum standards. While these attractive new buildings exhibit many sustainable features, at times the natural ventilation scheme was not sufficient to maintain comfortable conditions, especially when it was necessary to lower blinds for privacy, or to close windows to block noise from the street and some late night volleyball games.
However, a simple and cost-effective addition to these units would have kept us all comfortable: ceiling fans. CBE research has quantified what we all know intuitively, that fans can provide acceptable comfort at temperatures that otherwise would be stifling. This enables passive solutions in milder climates, and may reduce the reliance on air conditioning in climates where passive solutions alone are not sufficient. Read more
The emerging trend toward smart electric vehicles is creating new opportunities for synergistic innovations that are applicable to both buildings and cars. For example, the Tesla Powerwall, which grew out of automobile battery development, now offers a way for buildings to be more grid responsive. Likewise, model-based control concepts, greatly advanced by the automotive sector, are now being tested in the control of complex commercial buildings. These synergies, what we might call the building-automotive nexus, are also reflected in CBE’s body of research on thermal comfort. Read more
The average American working full time spends more than one-third of their day, five days per week, in their workplace. These spaces must support our physical and mental health and wellbeing, while also enabling the desired business outcomes of collaboration, innovation and productivity. While many noteworthy and applicable findings from health research have been released in recent years, ongoing challenges remain for disseminating these findings, for helping practitioners to integrate advanced research into understandable and actionable concepts, and ultimately for impacting workplace outcomes. Read more
The emerging Internet of Things (IoT) offers opportunities to improve how we design, measure and operate buildings. A research team at UC Berkeley’s Center for the Built Environment (CBE) conducted a six-month field demonstration of a system using IoT-connected office chairs, with integrated heating and cooling, that yielded valuable innovations for both building occupants and the research community. Results demonstrated high levels of comfort seen in few buildings. In addition, the data from occupants’ use of the chairs can be used to predict thermal comfort more accurately than methods previously available.
By Lindsay T. Graham
Every day we leave traces in our wake that provide clues as to who we are. The way we talk, the music, movies, and books we like, the possessions we own, and even the spaces (both virtual and physical) we craft and maintain shed light on not only who we are today, but also who we will likely be in the future1. Even seemingly small pieces of information provide reliable and accurate insight into our identities. For instance, research has shown even something as minute as our email address2 or the screennames3 we generate reflect accurate depictions of the personality traits we possess. As you might imagine, our daily environments (like our homes, offices, Facebook profiles)—places where tons of personal information is captured, created, and stored—provide even bigger clues about who we are as individuals4. Read more
An important goal at the Center for the Built Environment is to provide tools to assist industry professionals to create energy efficient and comfortable buildings. To this end, in 2013 we first launched the online CBE Thermal Comfort Tool as a way to help practitioners predict thermal comfort in buildings, according to the primary industry standard, ASHRAE Standard 55. CBE’s tool has been actively used, with as many as 6000 users per year, and it offers numerous capabilities, which we have expanded in the most recent version. Read more
An expected benefit of the Internet of Things (IoT) in buildings will come from an improved ability to monitor indoor environments in ways that lead to actionable insights. A panel session hosted by UC Berkeley’s Center for the Built Environment (CBE) explored three innovative methods to monitor buildings using the latest in sensing and communicating technologies. The ideas range from futuristic to immediately applicable, with a focus on measuring CO2. Understanding CO2 concentrations in buildings is important, as several recent studies suggest that high levels of the gas may have negative effects on our cognitive performance, yet there are challenges to measuring it in a reliable and comprehensive manner. Read more
The latest company to join CBE’s consortium, Aclima, has garnered global recognition as a leader in the application of sensor networks to provide environmental intelligence since coming out of stealth in 2015. Headquartered in San Francisco, the technology company provides information services from a unique sensing system powered by leading-edge environmental sensors, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence. This platform provides actionable insights for buildings, communities, cities and industry. Aclima’s combined focus on environmental quality and technology development makes it a welcome and fitting addition to CBE’s consortium of building industry leaders. Read more
The latest company to join CBE’s industry consortium, Genentech has been leading biotechnology innovation for more than 40 years. Genentech discovers, develops, manufactures and commercializes medicines to treat patients with serious or life-threatening medical conditions. Headquartered in South San Francisco, the company also has additional facilities in California, Oregon and Kentucky, with more than 14,000 employees. Read more
Two proposals from the Center for the Built Environment were recently selected for funding through 2017 research grants from the Siebel Energy Institute. These proposals, to be funded in the 2017 term, leverage technologies from the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) in buildings, including data analytics, advanced sensing, occupant engagement and energy performance in new and innovative ways. Read more
Open-plan office spaces have become widely adopted across many industries, driven in part by a range of expected benefits including reduced real estate costs, more flexibility, and enhanced communication and collaboration between employees. However, the evolution to ubiquitous open offices has not been without growing pains; they have inspired derision from some office workers, and have provided feedstock for journalists’ workplace exposés. Read more