Synthesizing building physics with social psychology: An interdisciplinary framework for context and occupant behavior in office buildings

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This study introduces an interdisciplinary framework for investigating building-user interaction in office spaces. The framework is a synthesis of theories from building physics and social psychology including social cognitive theory, the theory of planned behavior, and the drivers-needs-actions-systems ontology for energy-related behaviors. The goal of the research framework is to investigate the effects of various behavioral adaptations and building controls (i.e., adjusting thermostats, operating windows, blinds and shades, and switching on/off artificial lights) to determine impacts on occupant comfort and energy-related operational costs in the office environment. This study attempts to expand state-of-the-art understanding of: (1) the environmental, personal, and behavioral drivers motivating occupants to interact with building control systems across four seasons, (2) how occupants’ intention to share controls is influenced by social-psychological variables such as attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control in group negotiation dynamic, (3) the perceived ease of usage and knowledge of building technologies, and (4) perceived satisfaction and productivity. To ground the validation of the theoretical framework in diverse office settings and contexts at the international scale, an online survey was designed to collect cross-country responses from office occupants among 14 universities and research centers within the United States, Europe, China, and Australia.

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