Mission Statement: With people in developed countries spending as much as 90% of their time indoors (95% if time in vehicles is counted), the complex interactions between buildings and their occupants must be deeply understood to ensure a healthy, comfortable, and sustainable indoor environment. As buildings become inherently more energy efficient, the role that the occupant plays in total energy use increases. Conservative estimates indicate occupant behaviour affects 30% of energy use; but this is likely to be as high as 60% if they can also control heating and cooling equipment. Even if occupants wanted to reduce their energy use, they may not know how and the magnitude of the impact of their actions because buildings have become complex and individualized control is less common. A relatively low cost of energy reduces the incentive to take energy conserving actions. Furthermore, for many buildings, the occupants aren’t even responsible for the cost of energy, meaning that altruism is the sole incentive to reduce personal energy use.
The Human-Building Interaction Laboratory (HBI Lab) strives to understand the two-way interaction between buildings and their occupants to maximize comfort while minimizing environmental impacts. The HBI Lab seeks to understand and influence building design using a multidisciplinary engineering-based, simulation, experimental, and field study approaches. The human-building interaction begins at the earliest stages of design and continues through the entire life cycle. Our experience is that designing buildings to be robust, versatile, and comfortable inherently causes occupants to act in sustainable ways.