Indoor environmental conditions, including acoustic, lighting, and thermal conditions, can impact the experience of occupants. How should these conditions be combined to optimize indoor environments for occupants? Living labs, in which study participants occupy a simulated real-world environment for an extended period, offer a new way to test the interactive effects of environmental conditions. In a proof-of-concept study, we tested whether varying combinations of environmental conditions in a simulated open-office environment would affect the experience of its occupants. Six different environmental “scenes”–combinations of acoustic, lighting, and thermal conditions—were varied weekly over 18 weeks. One scene had environmental conditions commonly found in offices, including participants' previous office, and served as the baseline against which the other scenes were compared. We tested the effects of office environmental conditions on occupants' satisfaction and workday experience in the environment. Further, we tested whether the influence of the environment would extend outside of the time spent at work to affect occupants' feelings and health behaviors. Changes in office environmental conditions affected occupants' environmental satisfaction and their workday experience. Outside of the office, environmental conditions affected people's feelings (e.g., happiness) and health behaviors (reported sleep problems). These findings demonstrate that living labs offer a powerful methodology to test the interactive effects of environmental conditions on occupants' experience, both inside and outside the lab.
Building and Environment – Elsevier
Published: Feb 15, 2018
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