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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The human factors of sustainable building design: post occupancy evaluation of the Philip Merrill Environmental Center

  • Author(s): Heerwagen, J.
  • Zagreus, Leah
  • et al.

It is widely believed that sustainable building design strategies create improved indoor environmental quality and should, thus, be associated with improved occupant comfort, satisfaction, health, and work performance relative to buildings designed around standard practices. Yet, this belief remains a hypothesis with little empirical support.

The study described in this report represents a beginning step in understanding the human factors impacts of sustainable design practices. The report summarizes the findings from a study of the Philip Merrill Environmental Center building in Annapolis, Maryland. The building, which houses the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, was the first LEED Platinum building in the United States.

The Occupant Indoor Environmental Quality Survey, a widely used building evaluation instrument developed by the Center for the Built Environment at the University of California at Berkeley, was implemented in November 2004, almost four years after the Foundation moved into the new building. In addition to the survey, a series of interviews and discussion groups were held with staff one year after the move into the new building. This report includes a detailed summary of the survey findings with additional clarification of occupant responses gathered from the interviews and discussion groups.

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