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One size does not fit all: Establishing the need for targeted eco-feedback

Khosrowpour, Ardalan, Xie, Yimeng, Taylor, John E., Hong, Yili
Applied energy 2016 v.184 pp. 523-530
buildings, carbon dioxide, energy efficiency, equipment, greenhouse gas emissions, regression analysis, t-test
Despite all improvements in buildings shell, equipment, and design, CO2 emissions from buildings are increasing. Since occupants spend more than 87% of their time indoors, they are inseparable and significant elements of building system dynamics. Hence, there is a great potential for energy efficiency in buildings using a wide range of programs such as intervention and eco-feedback. Despite the high level of individual differences and intra-class variability of occupants’ behaviors, the current state-of-the-art eco-feedback programs treat all the occupants uniformly and do not target and tailor the feedback. Therefore, it leaves an opportunity to increase the efficacy of eco-feedback systems through the designing of tailored and targeted programs. In this paper, we conducted a comprehensive analysis and tested hypotheses on occupants’ behavioral responses to a normative comparison feedback program, in addition to the impact of notifications on the level of engagement of each group of occupants. We categorized occupants who participated in the normative comparison feedback program into three groups (i.e. low, medium, and high energy consumers) based on their baseline energy consumption, and tested 9 hypotheses. A mixed-effect regression model (MRM) and a paired t-test was implemented to evaluate the proposed hypotheses. The hypotheses examine the variability of occupants’ responses under the same eco-feedback program, and the effectiveness of notifications on reinforcing occupants’ engagement in these programs. The contribution of this paper is two-fold: (1) reporting that the effectiveness of the notifications in eco-feedback programs are initially highly dependent on the type and the nature of the program, and then the interval and the content of the notification, and (2) demonstrating the variability of occupants’ behavioral responses under the same normative comparison eco-feedback program. These findings indicate the need for a shift in focus toward targeted and tailored feedback programs which treat occupants based on their characteristics. Moreover, they highlight the need for eco-feedback design, development, testing and implementation research that acknowledges and addresses differences in occupant responses to feedback.