Architectural Design and Environmental Behavioral Effects in the Context of Sustainability
To evaluate the impact of resident behavior in a multifamily, adaptive reuse building and its effects on energy consumption.
An online Post Occupancy Survey (POE) was offered to residents at an adaptive reuse, multifamily complex. Tenants living in their unit at least 12 months were asked to provide 12 months of electricity bills to analyze and compile monthly electricity consumption (kWh/Yr.) for each unit. Units’ kWh were normalized using square footage to compare energy consumption. The data from the POE were analyzed in conjunction with monthly energy consumption to identify correlations between energy consumption and resident behaviors. RESULTS. Of the 267 occupants, 32 responded to the survey, a 12% response rate. 14 occupants provided monthly Electricity Consumption data (kWh), a 5% response rate. 43% of tenants were 30 years old or younger, 34% were 31-50, and 23% were over 51. 62% were male and 38% female. 46% spent 61-80 hrs/wk in their unit, 38% spent 101-120 hrs/wk, and 8% spent more than 120 hrs/wk, and 8% less than 60 hrs. Tenants spent 43% sleeping, 28% doing sedentary activities such as reading, eating, watching TV, 18% doing low-intensity activities such as cooking 9% doing high-intensity activities such as exercising, and 2% miscellaneous activities. The median calculated EUI for the units in this study of 35.7 kBtu/ft2/yr compared closely with the 34.8 kBtu/ ft2/yr reported by the design architects’ analysis of building units. This median EUI was 35.7kBtu/ ft2/yr, more than 30% better than the national average (47.9 kBtu/ ft2/yr) for large multi-family projects. No statistically significant differences in energy consumption (total kWh and median kWh/ft2) were observed between numbers of occupants, sex, and numbers of apartment bedrooms. Similarly, there no observed significant energy consumption differences among apartment orientations, floor of apartments, and age of occupants. Apartment square footage and energy consumption (total, average and median kWh) were mutually independent showing no significant correlation. Behaviors among tenants cross referenced with energy consumption had significant impact on the overall energy consumption of an individual unit. The most impact on energy consumption were the tenants themselves. Raising and lowering blinds, manually opening windows, and manually adjusting the thermostat did not have as much impact as air drying clothes and dishes. The most impact on reducing electricity consumption was from unplugging and turning off unused appliances These findings correlate with recent studies showing plug loads supersede heating and cooling costs for the average home in the U.S. and are largest percentage of overall electricity demand.
This study suggests tenant behaviors in a multifamily housing adaptive reuse building have a direct, significant impact on electricity consumption.