Integrating social and environmental perspectives in building design and operation

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In commercial buildings, for every $1 spent on energy, $100 are spent on people. This is well-known in the real estate industry but often overlooked in the energy efficiency domain. At the same time, buildings have an outsized impact on the environment—an impact that expected to continue growing. But because people are so much more expensive than energy, any rational view toward sustainable commercial building design and operation must balance the two perspectives of organizational performance and energy performance. Generally, researchers have considered these two perspectives separately. An opportunity to integrate them is to enhance our understanding of the relationship between buildings and occupants, as occupant behavior fundamentally drives building operation, and the dynamics of interactions among individuals drive the success of organizations. The overarching motivation for this dissertation, therefore, is to work toward integrating social and environmental perspectives in sustainable building design and operation. Toward this end, I investigate four major themes: (1) how sensing can be used to improve our methods for inferring occupant behavioral dynamics, (2) whether occupant socio-organizational networks can be inferred from these dynamics, (3) the creation of a novel framework based on discrete signal processing that enables identification of out-of-sync occupant behavior, and (4) whether building layouts can be improved such that controllable building systems (e.g., lighting, heating, and cooling systems) can better respond to occupant space use and therefore save energy. Overall, the research in this dissertation contributes toward a design and operation framework for the built environment in which environmental goals (e.g., energy efficiency) are integrated with social goals (e.g., organizational performance). In the context of commercial buildings, design and operation that explicitly consider knowledge of occupant behavior and organizational dynamics can lead to improved building operation and organizational performance. The results and methods I introduce have theoretical and practical implications that will enable a more environmentally and socially sustainable built environment.


Type of resource text
Form electronic resource; remote; computer; online resource
Extent 1 online resource.
Place California
Place [Stanford, California]
Publisher [Stanford University]
Copyright date 2020; ©2020
Publication date 2020; 2020
Issuance monographic
Language English


Author Sonta, Andrew James
Degree supervisor Jain, Rishee
Thesis advisor Jain, Rishee
Thesis advisor Fischer, Martin, 1960 July 11-
Thesis advisor Lepech, Michael
Degree committee member Fischer, Martin, 1960 July 11-
Degree committee member Lepech, Michael
Associated with Stanford University, Civil & Environmental Engineering Department


Genre Theses
Genre Text

Bibliographic information

Statement of responsibility Andrew James Sonta.
Note Submitted to the Civil & Environmental Engineering Department.
Thesis Thesis Ph.D. Stanford University 2020.
Location electronic resource

Access conditions

© 2020 by Andrew James Sonta
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).

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