Energy-efficient buildings not being run efficiently

A recent study by Washington State University (WSU) found that many owners of low-energy facilities are not getting the most from them.

The study showed that the occupants of buildings who had received effective training in how to run the energy-saving elements were the ones who benefited the most from installing such systems. They were also the happiest with their facilities.

Julia Day, a WSU graduate, got the idea for the study when she walked into a so-called energy-efficient office and noticed that many of the blinds were closed and that most of the lights were on. It struck her that this was not an energy efficient way of lighting the space. She was surprised to see the lights on, because the building design included day-lighting strategies, so they should not have been on at all during the day.

After investigated, Day discovered that most of the staff did not know how to open the blinds and some were not able to turn off the lights. To operate the blinds, some workers had to crawl under their desk or stand on them.

As a result, the blinds stayed down and the lights on regardless of what the office occupants wanted. Her study provides important lessons for architects in North Wales and other parts of the world, showing that any green energy system has to be easy to operate to enable the building’s occupants to actually use them.

Currently, Day is working on a training programme that ensures that every occupant is aware of energy conservation and how to use the tools built into a building to conserve power.

Posted by Mark
December 31, 2014

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