Quality of Life/Well-Being

C. Hartmann (chair); K. Schakib-Ekbatan; P. de Groot; W. Poortinga (I-011). Location: A8

A post-occupancy-evaluation in passive houses in Frankfurt-on-Main – reasons for the efficiency of passive houses and satisfaction of its users

C. Hartmann & R. Dubral

For several years passive houses are the role model for sustainable and energy efficient living in private households, while (nearly) zero energy efficient buildings in the public sector are still of rarity. Public buildings contribute highly to the emission of greenhouse gases, which highlights the importance of investing in the sector. Nevertheless, there is evidence that public owned passive houses fail to meet the expected energy savings. At first sight, it seems to be a matter of inappropriate handling by its users, but can also derive from a counter intuitive usability of control elements. To identify reasons for such performance gaps and to evaluate the user-satisfaction a post occupancy evaluation was conducted in four public sector buildings (children day care centers) in Frankfurt-on-Main, built with passive house standard. A sample of 85 employees and parents completed a questionnaire, where they were asked about their user satisfaction, knowledge and attitudes towards passive housing, mediation and knowledge mediation about passive house functioning. For profound understanding seven semi-structured interviews with employees were conducted additionally. While the overall perception and assessment of the buildings indicate a positive tendency, most of the participants complain about the dysfunctional use of the building. In particular users criticize the ventilation system, high temperature especially during the summer, incomprehensible blinds, the misarranged floor plans as well as position of rooms relative to each other. Users were not involved in the planning process, nor were they introduced to the innovative functionality of the new building by the time they moved in. The lack of regard concerning user habits and needs in common buildings and the role of the user in passive houses lead to several conflicting user-house-interactions and dissatisfaction among users, paid by higher energy expenses.

User satisfaction in focus – Implementation of survey results in the German Assessment System for Sustainable Office Buildings

K. Schakib-Ekbatan & A. Wagner

Offices should be of high functionality to provide a long-term supportive environment. Against the background of sustainable construction and energy efficiency users’ well-being plays an important role in the planning and evaluation of office buildings in political initiatives. As a result of the constantly developing political and societal goals the German Federal Building Ministry launched the ‚Assessment System for Sustainable Office Buildings‘. User satisfaction analyses are integrated as a proactive component. A questionnaire was developed based on theoretical concepts and empirical findings from the field of environmental psychology. Based on data gathered from 45 office buildings (N= 1.098) the questionnaire was validated by factor analysis and reliability testing revealing good values. An overall building index was developed which includes energy-relevant (e. g.room temperature, lighting) as well as socially relevant aspects (e. g. privacy). The index value held from a survey is integrated in the points system of the assessment. While it is a reasonable and important step to include the users’ everyday experiences at the workplace in the assessment some limitations are to be considered regarding numerical values respectively an index. Implications will be illustrated by practical building examples.

Choosing a seat in a crowded café

P. J. Groot & H. Staats

Individual cafe visitors are faced with a dilemma: on the one hand, more general personal space rules suggest keeping a safe distance to unknown persons; on the other hand, cafe norms imply socialization and close contact. It is not known how these conflicting forces affect seat choice in a cafe and whether different strategies are used to the same extent. Based on the related but distinctive concepts of interpersonal intimacy and privacy we developed three scenarios, in which three specific strategies were tested. In scenario one we manipulated degree of eye-contact, in scenario two minimal distance, and in scenario three protection from social intrusions, provided by physical elements in the space. In experiment one participants indicated on a floor plan of a cafe for each strategy which of two vacant seats they preferred. They did likewise in experiment two while also providing estimates of anticipated affect and associated cognitions for the chosen and non-chosen seat. We found that cafe visitors preferred seats that were pleasurable and not arousing, seats in which they would not be considered lonely, but in which they would also not be disturbed, and seats in which they had much control over social interaction.

Housing Quality and Well-being: The Role of Thermal Satisfaction, Financial Stress and Social Isolation

W. Poortinga, C. Grey, & S. Yiang

Living in a cold, energy-inefficient home has been linked to poor mental well-being. Previous research has shown that those with common mental disorders (CMD) are more likely to live in cold and mouldy houses. However, little is known about the pathways that link the two. This paper presents the results of the first wave of data collection conducted as part of an intervention study to examine the health impacts of energy-efficiency improvements (n=1,051). The dataset was analysed cross-sectionally to explore the associations between reported housing problems and diverse indicators of well-being, as well as potential mediators. A strong positive association between housing quality and well-being was found, with households in fuel poverty having more housing problems and poorer mental health. Those who reported poorer housing quality also reported lower levels of thermal satisfaction, and higher levels of financial stress and social isolation. Mediation analyses suggest that thermal satisfaction and financial stress are important pathways, with a multiple mediation analysis showing that together they can fully explain the association between reported housing problems and well-being. The results show the importance of the immediate housing environment for mental health, well-being and quality of life. The implications for energy-performance investments are discussed.