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 is one of 30 research testbeds supporting the California Test Bed Initiative, a lab-based commercialization development program for innovators and entrepreneurs working to bring early to mid-stage clean energy concepts to market. CalTestBed will award vouchers worth up to $300,000 to test and validate candidate technologies at one of nearly 30 testbeds across the UC system and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
The Covid-19 pandemic has challenged the restaurant industry, forcing many beloved institutions to close, while many have pivoting to take-out service and outdoor dining only. While we rally to support our favorite eateries, colder climates present some serious challenges to patio dining. In this Centerline post we borrow ideas from CBE’s experience with prototyping and testing innovative and energy-efficient ways to help people comfortably dine al fresco as we get through a dark and cold pandemic winter.
As we reach the final weeks of 2020 — a year we are all happy to put behind us — we take a moment to reflect on the many challenges of the year, and also some successes made possible through the support and resilience of our industry partners and collaborators who navigated with us through truly unprecedented times.
The historic renovation and expansion of Lick-Wilmerding High School in San Francisco has been recognized as the winner of CBE’s 2020 Livable Buildings Award. The design team conducted comprehensive carbon accounting, and the project is expected to yield net positive energy performance. Conferred annually by UC Berkeley’s Center for the Built Environment, this program recognizes buildings that demonstrate ‘livability’ in terms of occupant satisfaction, sustainability and architectural design.
No aspect of a building is more visible, or holds more didactic potential, than its facade. However, what you see is not always what you get. In spite of the facade’s explicit visibility, a facade’s appearance may not reveal much about a building’s performance in terms of energy, resilience or how it impacts the health and welfare of occupants. This most visible part of a building, when it comes to performance, is an enigma. To counter this, CBE researchers are working on multiple efforts to create new facade tools and metrics, and to document examples of excellence in terms of facade performance.
An international team of researchers led by CBE has devised a new method for evaluating thermal comfort inside buildings over extended periods of time. The new index, one of many created and tested by the team, has been demonstrated to be a significant improvement over existing indices being used in building design and operation.
Already a core part of CBE’s research team, Carlos Duarte completed his PhD dissertation earlier this year and has joined CBE as a post-doctoral researcher. We caught up with him via Zoom while the campus is still closed due to the ongoing concerns of Covid-19.
Imagine an ice cream parlor that offers only one flavor of ice cream, one chosen by scientists based on what an ‘average’ person wants. While this idea seems absurd, a similar logic has been used in establishing standards for thermal comfort in buildings. A group of CBE staff, industry partners and others have developed a revision to thermal comfort standards that acknowledges the variability in human comfort preferences.
CBE received new funding to support research in innovative control technologies that will reduce natural gas consumption in large commercial buildings, leading to paths for cost-efficient solutions having broad application including in existing buildings.