LIFEBUILDINGX Life Building Exchange: Investigating the Intersection of Pro-environmental Behavior, Place Meaning, and High-performance Design.
KRIEGH, JULIE A
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The design of the physical environment and people’s relationship with that environment are both important factors related to energy conservation. While social scientists have developed theoretical frameworks to understand people’s pro-environmental behaviors and relationships to place, many have overlooked the role of the built environment—and high-performance design in particular—in that relationship. Conversely, architects focused on high-performance net-zero design often do not seek to understand how people live in and make sense of their environments. Drawing these two approaches together, a mixed-methods study of two housing communities in the Pacific Northwest was conducted to understand people’s residential energy use behavior and how that relates to physical and social aspects of their environment as well as their values, identity, and place attachment. Site 1 was designed to state-of-the-art “green” building codes for low energy use, while Site 2 was built according to more conventional code standards. Methods included the introduction of a treatment (a monitoring dashboard showing a household’s energy use) and the administration of a pre- and post-test survey, along with in-depth qualitative interviews of a sub-sample of participants. Findings indicate that while the energy use scores for both communities were low, miscellaneous electric loads and space conditioning uses consumed over 50% of the total household energy. Additionally, energy use data show that the Green Built Community increased their energy use over the course of the study, while the Code-built Community decreased its energy use. Survey results show that biospheric values and environmental self-identity ratings increased for the Code-built Community over this same time period. Interview data suggests that people will engage in their environment in a way that is likely to be energy conserving when such behavior is supported by their residential setting, when they espouse biospheric values and are attached to and identify with their homes and communities. Based on the findings, a conceptual framework, Life-Building-Exchange, is offered that encompasses: LIFE—people’s values and place meanings; BUILDING—environmental cues; and EXCHANGE—the locus of reciprocal relationships (buildings and behavior) found in high-performance environments necessary to meet net-zero climate change goals targeted by the 2015 Paris Agreement.
- Built environment