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Experiencing sustainable architecture: investigating a university’s internal initiative for sustainability

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Slatyer, P (2013) Experiencing sustainable architecture: investigating a university’s internal initiative for sustainability. Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

Climate change and the concomitant need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through living sustainably is possibly the most significant issue of our time. Sustainable built environments have the potential to make a significant contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The success of sustainable architecture relies on both technology and its acceptance by building occupants. Whilst most research on sustainable architecture has focussed on technology, there has been less research on occupant experience of sustainable buildings.
This research addresses this gap by investigating occupant experience of sustainable architecture through a case study and a review of literature relating to the phenomenological experience of architecture. The case study is the School of Architecture and Design at the University of Tasmania. The research design is based on mixed methodology, using questionnaire surveys to provide extensive quantitative data which is investigated more intensively through the qualitative research methods of interviews and focus groups.
The results show strong dissatisfaction with most of the specific variables of comfort (temperature, air, noise, lighting, personal control), satisfaction with overall comfort, health and productivity and strong satisfaction with overall design aspects. This finding is consistent with the literature on comfort and occupant experience of green buildings. It appears that occupants in the case study building are adapting to the discomfort they experience, with the satisfaction they express for overall comfort and the building overall indicating tolerance and forgiveness of this discomfort.
The analysis and discussion is structured thematically around the themes of comfort, delight and forgiveness, as these arose as the main issues from the data and have significance for the development of sustainable architecture. The internal environments of sustainable buildings are often more variable, less predictable and have a greater temperature range than air conditioned buildings, due to the use of passive technologies for heating, cooling and ventilation which more closely follow the external climate. Forgiveness of these less‐than‐static conditions is a positive step in the acceptance of sustainable architecture and can bring the benefit of thermal delight. The literature indicates that good design which encourages delight can have a positive effect on occupant well‐being which in turn may facilitate forgiveness. A phenomenological understanding of occupant experience supports the concept of comfort as a multi‐dimensional relationship between occupant and building.
For centuries architects have been guided by the Vitruvian triad of Firmness, Commodity and Delight in their pursuit of architectural excellence. I propose that this is augmented by the triad of Forgiveness, Comfort and Delight to guide architects towards creating sustainable architecture for the twenty first century.

Item Type: Thesis (Research Master)
Keywords: sustainable architecture, post occupancy evaluation, adaptive comfort, forgiveness index
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Date Deposited: 01 Oct 2013 06:18
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2017 01:06
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