Project Title:

Using Occupant Feedback to Improve Building Operations

A system to help facility managers utilize and respond to building occupant complaints.

Status (updated 7/18/2007): Complete

Funding sources: CBE Industry Consortium, Research Grants


Project Objective

Study how information exchange between building occupants and facility management staff can be used to improve operations. Develop web-based software allowing occupants to provide feedback to the building control system about building operation. Propose strategies to handle feedback from occupants in a cost-effective manner.

Significance to Industry

Building occupants are a valuable source of information about how a building is performing. By examining trends in feedback from occupants, building operations can be improved by identifying and correcting improperly functioning systems. We estimate that by providing facility operations personnel with better information and by automating many of the functions that are currently performed manually, US commercial building operators could save more than $2 billion annually in complaint handling costs.

CBE is developing new, cost-effective methods for collecting and aggregating occupant feedback, as well as new strategies for acting on this information in a manner that will allow facility operators to reduce the cost of responding to occupant requests while improving occupant satisfaction. This will allow an automation system to handle common types of feedback with a minimal use of valuable facility management resources.

Research Approach

We developed an occupant feedback user interface that can be used in conjunction with the work request feature of Maximo, a commonly used computerized maintenance management system. We implemented a prototype of the user interface at a facility that is already using the Maximo system. Concurrently, we developed a model-based strategy for handling hot and cold complaints because previous research has found that they are the most frequent kind of service request from occupants.

The research team also developed and tested a web-based occupant feedback information system that interfaces with building control and maintenance systems. We used the GSA Energy and Maintenance Network (GEMNet) for testing. We call this application the Tenant Interface for Energy and Maintenance Systems (TIEMS).

In conjunction with the development of TIEMS, we completed the design of a Maintenance and Operations Recommender (MORE). MORE uses information from energy management control systems (EMCS) and computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) to recommend what maintenance personnel should do in response to a service request from an occupant. CBE has published a number of articles and technical papers on complaint prediction, TIEMS, and the MORE system.

Publications and Reports

Federspiel, C. and L. Villafana, 2003. Design of an Energy and Maintenance System User Interface for Building Occupants. ASHRAE Transactions, 109(2), pp. 665-676.

Federspiel, C. and L. Villafana, 2003. Design of a Maintenance and Operations Recommender. ASHRAE Transactions, 109(2), pp. 677-683.

Federspiel, C., R. Martin, and H. Yan, 2003. Thermal Comfort Models and Complaint Frequencies. CBE Summary Report, April. 33 pp.

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Building occupants in library

Effectively using feedback from building occupants is a challenge for facility operators.

TIEMS screen

CBE tested its Tenant Interface for Energy and Maintenance Systems (TIEMS) at several GSA properties.