Rajat Gupta and Mariam Kapsali
Bibliographic info:
8th Windsor Conference, 10-13 April, 2014, Windsor UK

This paper investigates the effect of occupant behaviour and expectations on energy use and indoor environmental conditions of six case study dwellings in three sustainable social housing developments in UK using building performance evaluation methods. The case study houses cover a variety of built forms and different types of construction systems but have similar occupancy profiles and tenures. The study captures quantitative data on fabric performance, commissioning and controls, energy consumption and environmental conditions, cross-related with qualitative data gathered through questionnaires and interviews with occupants.  Despite all the developments being designed to Code for Sustainable homes level 4 or 5, the actual energy use across the six case study houses varies by a factor of 3.3, with high occupant expectations increasing the gap between designed and actual performance. To ensure that low energy houses perform as intended, occupants need to be trained through graduated (and extended) handover, supplemented by visual home user guides. Controls need to be designed and installed in a more intuitive and user-friendly way that encourages occupants to interact with their environment in an adaptive manner. Otherwise there is a risk that UK Government’s zero carbon housing policy may get undermined.