OCCUPANT TRAINING IN HIGH PERFORMANCE BUILDINGS: AN ASSESSMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL SATISFACTION, LEARNING, AND BEHAVIORS IN BUILDINGS
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In the past twenty years, more stringent energy codes and environmental standards have led to higher performance building designs that use less energy. Oftentimes, high performance buildings that incorporate passive building strategies require active occupant engagement (Brown et al., 2009). It is typical designers or building owners understand the intent of the design and any sustainability goals, but the people that work in these buildings on a daily basis may not comprehend how their actions affect the building's energy use (Janda, 2009).A sequential mixed method study was conducted to better understand the relationships between occupant behaviors, reported environmental satisfaction, and learning in high performance buildings. First, interviews were conducted (n=3) and documents were analyzed to determine the study population. Second, a survey was sent to ten high performance buildings in the United States (n=118), and third, follow up interviews (n=41) were conducted with occupants from selected buildings to better understand the survey responses.It was hypothesized that if participants had received training for high performance building features, they would be more satisfied with their environment than those who had not received training. Results indicated there was a significant difference between the two groups(those who had received effective training and those who did not), and the null hypothesis was rejected. The individuals who reported having received effective training were significantly more likely to be satisfied with their office environment than those who did not receive any training, which was not surprising.Based on the literature review and the results from this study, a successful training program should (1) incorporate multiple types of delivery methods to support learning and multiple "intelligences," (2) provide opportunities for experiential learning through an interactive approach within the building context, (3) encourage learning through techniques that facilitate motivation, reinforcement, retention, and transference of knowledge such as feedback, goal setting and competition, and (4) explain the rationale behind the need for training and how it will benefit the occupants. Occupants need to understand the building owners have aggressive energy reduction goals and their actions directly affect the energy use of the building and their personal comfort.