Hurricanes, wildfires, and floods produce dramatic images of destruction, but heatwaves cause more deaths in the U.S. each year. Research and new tools help us understand how fans can provide resiliency during extreme heat events. Fans may use 10 to 100 times less energy than air conditioning, reducing the impact on power grids during these events.
Occupant surveys provide valuable insights into how well a building is performing. Historically these surveys focus on comfort and satisfaction. However, as our attention shifts to occupant health and wellbeing, we wonder whether our tools are measuring all we need them to. In a recent paper, we look at the CBE Occupant Survey tool and its database to evaluate its measurement and benchmarking properties, while also identifying new enhancements intended to support the creation of spaces that truly benefit those who use them.
CBE researchers are part of a research program on “Resilient Cooling for Buildings,” supported by an international association of governments, industry and researchers. The main objective is to support the rapid adoption of resilient, low-energy and low-carbon cooling systems for buildings. This work will also serve to help cities and communities better contend with climate-based and demand-based power outages.
Using an extensive trove of thermal comfort research data, CBE’s research team recently published a set of ‘nudges’ to the existing adaptive comfort standards to improve comfort in commercial buildings while potentially reducing energy use. This work updates the landmark study from 1998 by Gail Brager and Richard de Dear on the Adaptive Comfort Model (ACM), which demonstrated that people in naturally ventilated buildings were more comfortable with seasonal temperature variation compared to people in air-conditioned buildings.
CBE recently launched an online tool for designing with ceiling fans, making it easier for designers to create highly energy efficient and comfortable spaces. The tool was created based on years of research that have demonstrated that ceiling fans can keep a person cool while using only a fraction of the energy required by air conditioning.
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.
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.
As one of the West Coast’s premier general building contractors, Rudolph and Sletten has been at the forefront of new building technology and cutting-edge trends for over 50 years, producing some of the most recognizable and iconic structures in California. The company focuses on markets requiring technical expertise such as biotech, pharmaceutical, higher education, healthcare, technology, high-rise, corporate campus, and justice.
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.