The role of office users in the sustainability of office buildings – an empirical investigation and implications for FM
Paper in proceedings, 2012
Energy consumption in office buildings depends on energy efficient construction and technology, but is also significantly affected by occupant behavior and facilities management practices. It is not clear, however, which reasons account for occupant energy consumption and what measures can be taken to realize latent energy saving potentials.
The aim of this study consists in the analysis of causes of energy-inefficient occupant behavior and thus to provide background information for organizational measures targeted at the reduction of energy-consumption. In the present study we investigated these questions by asking office occupants about (a) their energy related behavior, (b) reasons for suboptimal energy related consumption and (c) their knowledge of energy efficient behavior in office buildings.
1174 occupants working in 12 office buildings participated in an online survey. The results show that up to 20 per cent of occupants report bringing personal electronic devices to the workplace. Around 10 per cent of the occupants have manipulated ventilation ducts in their work area in order to optimize their comfort. The study shows that the main reasons for not acting energy efficiently are not attitudes or goals. They relate to a lack of information, lack of incentives, and habits. This finding is further supported by the survey participants’ statements about the three most effective actions occupants can take to reduce energy consumption in the building. The most cited action taken by respondents to reduce energy consumption was to switch off lights when they were not required. There were a number of more effective energy efficiency measures that were not cited frequently (such as reducing heating), indicating a lack of awareness.
It is recommended that organizations implement awareness and feedback systems tailored to organizational practices in order to change occupant’s habits. FM departments should take the responsibility of analyzing energy-related occupant behavior and of leading projects to increase energy-efficiency and sustainability in organizations.