Building standards and conventional practice are all about ’reducing the negative‘ — but what if the goal is to ’enhance the positive‘ instead? Aiming to create environments that are not only comfortable and healthy, but are connected to nature, provide a sense of place, and are a delight to be in. Designing for experience requires us to embrace a broader view of experiential aesthetics, going beyond the primacy of vision to recognize broader sensual qualities that contribute to the beauty and memorability of space.
Biophilia — humans’ innate love of nature — is an idea that has inspired wide-ranging research on the benefits of human connection with nature. So how do we translate this wealth of research knowledge into making buildings that capture the benefits of nature? CBE and SERA Architects are jointly developing a biophilia option for CBE’s occupant survey to evaluate the impact of biophilic features in existing workspaces.
During the 2018 fires, CBE used previously-installed sensors in two University buildings to understand and evaluate building resilience to urban scale air pollution, quantifying particle penetration to the indoors from outdoors. The low-cost Internet of Things (IoT) PM2.5 sensors were accompanied by a survey of the building occupants, with questions focused on changes in their behavior, perceived air quality, self-reported productivity and health symptoms.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the publication of a seminal paper from Rocky Mountain Institute, “Greening the Building and the Bottom Line,” making the case that green buildings’ unique features may improve employee productivity. Since then interest in this topic has remained strong, and several studies by CBE and others have contributed to our collective understanding of workplace productivity; in this post we describe our related work with a focus on key variables.
Companies aspiring to sustainability and wellness have focused on managing workplace indoor environmental quality (IEQ), however undertaking IEQ measurements in a reliable manner can be challenging. In this post we discuss why continuous monitoring technologies are ideal for evaluating building IEQ performance.
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 Seaver Laboratory and Andrew Science Hall.
This spring, CBE’s research team was joined by post-doctoral researcher Thomas Parkinson, a leading expert on thermal perception in dynamic environments. Thomas earned his Ph.D. at the University of Sydney where he studied with long-standing CBE research collaborator Prof. Richard de Dear. He later became a lecturer there until his journey east to UC Berkeley.
CBE research has quantified what we all know intuitively: ceiling 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.
The emerging trend toward smart electric vehicles is creating new opportunities for synergistic innovations that are applicable to both buildings and cars. 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.
The emerging Internet of Things offers opportunities to improve how we design, measure and operate buildings. CBE’s research team conducted a six-month field demonstration of a system using IoT-connected heated and cooled office chairs. 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.