Information Visualization in Commercial Buildings:
Design, Technology, and Human Behavior

All day symposium held at the Pacific Energy Center, April 13, 2011

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Symposium Overview

New web-enabled technologies coupled with powerful information visualization methods can provide valuable insight to building occupants, managers, and designers. These tools are being widely adopted in response to aggressive new energy goals, and a broadened interest in occupant engagement. At this event designers, software developers, researchers, and usability specialists presented various approaches for influencing behavior change, and provided a wide range of examples and case studies.

This event was sponsored by the Center for the Built Environment (CBE), at the University of California, Berkeley, and the PG&E Pacific Energy Center, with logistical support from th Golden Gate Chapter of ASHRAE.

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Morning Session: Perspectives on information design and influencing behavior change

Kath Straub, Director, Usability.org
Information, design, and the psychology of behavioral change (PDF)

Nobody wakes up in the morning and thinks, “I want to use more energy than my neighbor today.” But, inducing people to actually reduce their energy consumption still seems difficult. And the task becomes more complex in shared responsibility spaces, such as commercial buildings. In this talk we explore the psychology of behavioral change in the context of energy efficiency.

Steve Bishop, Global Sustainability Lead, IDEO
Designing for the smartest part of smart buildings — people (PDF)

Design thinking and human-centered design can help enlist people as active contributors to sustainability goals. This session will feature case studies from the innovation and design firm IDEO that visualize information in the context of smart buildings, hybrid vehicles, financial services, and healthcare, and will include projects with the U.S. General Services Administration and Ford.

Barbara Ciesla, Vice President, HOK
Empowering occupants for behavioral change (PDF)

The actions of those who occupy and maintain a space have an enormous impact on our ability to reduce resource consumption. This session is a case study of the implementation of HOK’s Occupant Engagement Program (OEP) in an office complex with a population of 90 tenant companies and more than 20,000 people. The talk will explain how the OEP, which utilizes the principles of community based social marketing, can empower occupants and facilitate behavioral change.

Saul Zambrano, Director, Integrated Demand-side Management Core Products, PG&E
Data visualization technologies and customer insights

The advent of smart metering has created an explosion in the volume of energy data available to commercial customers. A key issue is effective data visualization — showing the right data, to the right users, at the right time. PG&E is performing technology assessments with customers to determine what frameworks and messages will drive action. This presentation will discuss PG&E’s experience with data visualization technologies, and insights gained from customer deployments.

Afternoon Session: Applications, tools, and outcomes

Michael Murray, Founder and CEO, Lucid Design Group
Building occupant feedback systems and plug loads: opportunities and results
New findings on plug loads indicate that “unregulated” loads make up to 50 percent of a building’s total electricity use. Not all plug loads are controllable by occupants, but the portion that are represent a large and meaningful opportunity for conservation. This presentation discusses Lucid’s latest research on plug loads, as well as some of the latest success stories from behavioral campaigns.

Jessica Granderson, Research Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Building energy information systems: Case study and state of the technology highlights ( PDF)

Building energy visualization and analysis tools are widely available in the commercial market, yet are underutilized, resulting in enormous missed savings opportunities. This presentation focuses on critical research addressing barriers to the widespread deployment of energy information systems (EIS); key findings include user case studies, a state of the technology evaluation, and analytical methods for building energy time series data analysis.

David Helliwell, Co-founder, Pulse Energy
Checking the pulse of a large portfolio of buildings ( PDF)

What’s involved with rolling out an energy management system for hundreds of buildings at once? What do energy managers need to be heroes? Why don’t buildings work the way they’re supposed to? This presentation will discuss these and other challenges currently being faced by companies attempting to monitor and manage their energy consumption, using case studies and lessons learned.

Paul Mathew, Staff Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Presenting energy data to support action-oriented benchmarking (PDF)

In this presentation we do a live demo of the EnergyIQ tool and discuss key considerations for visualizing energy data to support action-oriented benchmarking (AOB). AOB needs to allow navigation across different levels of engagement and detail — from relatively simple whole-building benchmarking to fairly detailed system-level benchmarking; from summary views of a portfolio of buildings to more fine-grained analysis for an individual building.

Related research at CBE

We are currently conducting resarch to investigate optimal methods for displaying building performance information, in order to influence commercial building occupants and managers to reduce resource use. Learn more >>

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