Behaviour Change and Post Occupancy Evaluation

The Behaviour Change team at Leeds Sustainability Institute (LSI) uses years of experience in health psychology to tap into underlying themes affecting health and wellbeing and efficient energy use. Our research into the technical performance of buildings and energy is perfectly complemented by investigations into occupant understanding and how to manage their buildings to be comfortable, healthy and efficient, particularly with regards to mitigating fuel poverty, damp and acceptance of new technologies.

For example we have identified that occupants can have an even greater influence on the conditions in their homes than any underlying technical failings and so the potential for finding behavioural change-based solutions to improving building performance and occupant wellbeing.

Below are case studies related to this research and access to all our research on behaviour change.

Behaviour change post occupancy evaluation case studies

Public perceptions of hydrogen are currently only guessed at by the research and industry community. As a result, we have no idea about how communities and individuals would respond to the prospect of a 100% hydrogen conversion, which could change the look and feel of daily core practices e.g. cooking and heating.  As part of the H21 NIC project a programme of social science research is being undertaken by Leeds Beckett University. This research will ensure that some of the issues regarding perceptions of hydrogen are confronted and new knowledge generated. The research aims are as follows:
Generate insight into baseline public perceptions of the safety of hydrogen and other energy technologies/vectors including how they vary by a range of socio-demographic and geographic variables.

Generate insight into how people respond to the possibility of using 100% hydrogen in the three-key, gas fuelled social practices (heating, cooking, travelling), including how they vary by a range of socio-demographic and geographic variables.
Understand how public perception of the safety of hydrogen evolves across the range of socio-demographic and geographic variables when considering the H21 NIC evidence.

Build a hydrogen research network of social scientists across the UK who may then become involved in the delivery of the proposed research activity or who may play advisory roles in the development of a body of research, data and expertise around the opportunities and challenges of hydrogen.

BPE of Prototype Low Carbon Dwellings

The Temple Avenue Project, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust, outlines the initial evaluation of the design, construction and performance of two prototype low carbon dwellings and helps establish the extent to which an existing 1930s masonry house can be renovated so as to achieve a level of performance commensurate with the advanced energy and carbon standard of the prototype new dwellings. The two prototype dwellings contained some technological innovation and were constructed between July and December 2009. One prototype was constructed using thin-joint masonry construction and another using a structural insulated panel (SIPs) build system. The concurrent renovation works to an adjacent existing dwelling explored the impact of two standards of renovation, one reflecting the standard fabric measures that are currently considered to be cost effective and one reflecting the more challenging requirements of an 80% emissions reduction and incurring greater capital costs.

Research outputs

Leeds was designated a core city for trialling the Government’s Green Deal domestic energy efficiency policy. Leeds Beckett University undertook a monitoring and testing programme on 65 dwellings to investigate the effectiveness of the insulation measures installed and to understand any underperformance. This report outlines the findings from a series of investigations including: surveys, air tightness tests, co heating tests, in situ U-value tests, hygrothermal and thermal bridging modelling, in-use monitoring and occupant interviews. The surveys revealed that the ‘whole house approach’ to retrofit was, more often, missing, and quality assurance around insulation detailing was regularly absent, leading to avoidable errors and potentially embedding problems in the installations. Furthermore, moisture issues were, in the majority of instances, over-looked or made worse despite over half the sample having some form of damp. Despite this, energy savings were observed and the appearance of the dwellings were improved, thus apparent satisfaction was generally high, even though the installs were imperfect and moisture problems were introduced.

Research outputs

  • Gorse, C.A.,& Glew, D., Johnston, D., Fylan, F., Miles-Shenton, D., Smith, M., Brooke-Peat, M., Farmer, D., Stafford, A., Fletcher, M. and Thomas, F. (2017) Core cities Green Deal monitoring project – Leeds, 2017, Department of Energy and Climate Change.
  • Fylan, F., Glew, D., Smith, M., Johnston, D., Brooke-Peat, M., Miles-Shenton, D., Fletcher, M., Aloise-Young, P. and Gorse C. (2016) Reflections on retrofits: Overcoming barriers to energy efficiency among the fuel poor in the UK, Energy Research and Social Science, 190-198
  • Hardy A, Glew D, Gorse C, Fletcher M, (2018), Validating solid wall insulation retrofits with in-use data, Energy and Buildings, 165, 200-205
  • Glew, D.W., Smith, M., Miles-Shenton, D. and Gorse, C. (2017) Assessing the quality of retrofits in solid wall dwellings, International Journal of Building Pathology and Adaptation, 35 (5), 501-518

Evaluating the performance of novel Internal Wall Insulation

This report presents the preliminary findings from before and after building performance evaluation (BPE) field trials undertaken to measure the impact of six TIWI and one conventional IWI retrofits. Their impact on thermal bridging and hygrothermal models identified how they affected moisture risk. Dynamic simulation models predicted the energy demand reductions to evaluate potential carbon and fuel bill savings. Coheating tests measured the reduction in the heat transfer coefficient (HTC) measured in W/K, which describes the holistic impact on the home’s heating demand.  In addition, blower door tests and heat flux measurements quantified the difference that the retrofits had on infiltration (uncontrolled air leakage) and fabric heat loss, i.e. wall U-value measured in W/m²K, respectively. Appraisal of the installation costs and how the TIWI products could overcome installation barriers was undertaken, supported by surveys in 100 homes to identify insulation and dwelling characteristics that affected costs or risks, such as requirements to replace plumbing, boilers and radiators, apply decoration or repair damp walls.

Research outputs

This project is currently in progress, if you would like any more information, please contact us.

Nationwide BPE investigations into low carbon homes

In 2011, the Technology Strategy Board (now Innovate UK) launched the £8m Building Performance Evaluation (BPE) programme. An overarching aim of the BPE programme was to assemble comparable data and knowledge about a large number of buildings to enable analysis across the body of case study information, leading to generic findings#, conclusions and learning for the sector as a whole. As part of this programme, the Centre for the Built Environment (CeBE) were successful in securing over £500,000 of external funding to undertake six post construction and early occupation studies (25% of all of the domestic projects awarded under the Technology Strategy Board BPE programme) and two in-use performance and post occupancy evaluation studies. Additionally, all participants involved in the wider BPEP were required to adhere to standardised BPE practices based on the Leeds Beckett University Coheating Text Protocol.

Research outputs

  • Gentoo Passivhaus Racecourse Development, Sunderland
    Type of study – Post construction and early occupation
  • Gentoo Passivhaus Racecourse Development
    Type of study – In-use performance and post occupancy evaluation
  • Dormary Court, York
    Type of study – Post construction and early occupation
  • Dormary Court, York
    Type of study – In-use performance and post occupancy evaluation
  • Lancaster Cohousing Development, Lancaster
    Type of study – Post construction and early occupation
  • Community in a Cube (CIAC), Riverside One, Middlesborough
    Type of study – Post construction and early occupation
  • Derwenthorpe, York
    Type of study – Post construction and early occupation
  • Lea Field Court, York
    Type of study – Post construction and early occupation
  • Fletcher MJ; Johnston DK; Glew D; Parker J (2017), An empirical evaluation of temporal overheating in an assisted living Passivhaus dwelling in the UK. Building and Environment, 121, Pages 106-118
  • JOHNSTON, D. and SIDDALL, M. (2016) The Building Fabric Thermal Performance of Passivhaus Dwellings—Does It Do What it Says on the Tin? Sustainability, 8(1), 97; DOI:10.3390/su8010097
  • JOHNSTON, D. and STAFFORD, A. (2016) Estimating the Background Ventilation Rates in New-Build UK Dwellings – is n50/20 appropriate? Indoor and Built Environment. Published online before print January 28, 2016, DOI: 10.1177/1420326X15626234
  • JOHNSTON, D. MILES-SHENTON, D.FARMER, D. and BROOKE-PEAT, M. (2015) Post Construction Thermal Testing: Some Recent Measurements. Engineering Sustainability. Volume 168, Issue 3, June 2015, pp. 131-139. DOI: 10.1680/ensu.14.00048
  • JOHNSTON, D. MILES-SHENTON, D. and FARMER, D. (2015) Quantifying the Domestic Building Fabric ‘Performance Gap’. Building Services Engineering Research & Technology (BSER&T). Volume 36, No.5, September 2015, pp.614–627. DOI:10.1177/014362441557034
  • JOHNSTON, D. FARMER, D. BROOKE-PEAT, M. and MILES-SHENTON, D. (2014) Bridging the Domestic Building Fabric Performance Gap. Building Research & Information. Volume 44, Issue 2, pp.147-159. DOI:10.1080/09613218.2014.979093

Evaluating the success of MVHR retrofits

The aim of this project was to assess the effectiveness of the whole house mechanical ventilation and heat recovery (MVHR) systems within the existing UK housing stock.  This was investigated via field trials into homes where MVHR was installed as part of a comprehensive energy efficiency and environmental improvement package. Evaluations were made in terms of energy use, thermal comfort, internal air quality and acceptability to tenants.

Research outputs

Contact the Leeds Sustainability Institute