After WorksPuzzle Pieces

User behavior

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Several studies demonstrate the importance of user behavior in buildings energy efficiency. In our group we already focused on how it influences the summer comfort in residential buildings. This means that there is a “credibility gap” between expected energy performance and real energy performance.

This topic is gaining more and more interest in the scientific community, as demonstrates the increase if the number of articles published during the last years.

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The International Energy Agency defines the occupant behavior as “observable actions or reactions of a person in response to external or internal stimuli, or respectively actions or reactions of a person to adapt to ambient environmental conditions such as temperatures, indoor air quality and sunlight”.

Another more practical definition, by Humphrey and Nicol says that “If a change occurs such as to produce discomfort, people react in ways which tend to restore their comfort”.

But how do people react? An interesting scheme was defined by Tianzhen Hong, Da Yan, Simona D’Oca and Chien-fei Chen in the article “Ten questions concerning occupant behavior in buildings: The big picture” published on Building and Environment.

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According to a literature reviewusers effects on energy saving are impressive: up to 30% in heating, to 50% for cooling and hot water.

Our group have had a specific focus on the user effect on summer building behavior.

User behavior has effects also on not energy related aspects such as moisture and indoor air quality.

For this reason it’s important to be aware of the user behavior importance in each phase of the building life.

Several measures can be done in each phase such as:

  • design phase: co-creation to design a building basing on user’s need, choos easy to use systems, talk with the user to understand which are the building problems nowadays (for refurbishment);
  • work phase: some projects, such as the Sinfonia project, shown the importance of a “cultural mediator” in this pahse;
  • Operation: provide an user manual, smart metering, energy consumption analysis to find the wastefulness, peer to peer training

The user behavior topic should be considered also for aspects going beyond energy such as water use, waste production and collection, mobility, etc.

Carbon Literacy Project

Carbon Literacy Project

The Project, born in Manchester, was developed to create a low carbon culture and aims to make Carbon Literacy learning accessible to everyone. Carbon Literacy means being aware of the impact of the everyday activities and of the steps that everyone can take to reduce emissions. The Carbon Literacy Project is the accreditation body and therefore doesn’t deliver any training. The training is delivered in-house by each organization, or it can be sourced experienced trainers externally. It works across three audiences: residents, employees and students. The training teaches the basics of climate change science, what’s already happening globally and locally, how our action may be affecting climate change and what can we do to help. During the course the participants create one significant action to reduce their own carbon footprint, and they create an action involving other people to reduce the collective footprint. This is an opportunity to learn how to reduce concretely our carbon footprint impact, to learn some of the excellent things that people around us are already doing and to find out how to motivate and inspire people around us.

DREEAM Project in Padiham

DREEAM Project in Padiham    

Within the renovation project of 109 properties in Padiham (UK) DREEAM made sociological and user experience evaluation before and after renovation works, they made analysis grid with verbatims, quotes, pictures, detailed user experience of tenants with equipment. They also made an innovative visual mapping of the results and a social impact reporting.

They proposed a map of data, useful for social housing company that have a lot of data. They identified 4 categories of tenants with different approach and attitude in energy use. Different types need different training.

The target is to have a consumer mind map, to know how to bring user to action.

They adopted 5 priority steps to help tenants adopting energy efficient behaviors based on co-design interviews:

  • 2 pages on PV system e PV maximum production capacity per weather type to help tenants to adopt efficient use
  • 1 magnet or stickers on key mistakes with radiator, advantages to use automatic settings and avoid over heating
  • 1 guide about the most efficient use of radiators, boilers with equivalences (uses/gains)
  • Meet and train energy champions with these three tools
  • Correct the tools based on recommendations of energy champions and disseminate to other tenants.

Vosgelis educational apartment

Launched in September 2016 this educational apartment is the fruit of a partnership between Vosgelis and Face Vosges. The apartment is situated in the heart of the Haut du Gras, which is one of the four priority areas managed by Vosgelis.

Numerous demonstration take place in the apartment, provided by Vosgelis team, for example: how to regulate correctly thermostatic valves, which type of lamp has less electric consumption, how to minimize waste of water and how to better organize food in the fridge. All king of people can visit the apartment: tenants, associations and school.

The idea is to teach in a very simple way to reduce energy bills, because the company estimated that savings can run to around 150€ per year per family.


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