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Improving Occupant Wellness in Commercial Office Buildings through Energy Conservation Retrofits

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journal contribution
posted on 21.05.2021, 17:27 by J. J. McArthur, Chris Jofeh, Ann-Marie Aguilar
There is increasing literature demonstrating the link between building indoor environmental quality, and occupant health and productivity, driving the corporate real estate industry to investigate how to integrate wellness features in both new and existing building stock. Meanwhile, new voluntary standards to promote occupant health are becoming adopted alongside sustainability standards. As commercial building owners and tenants seek to improve occupant conditions and incorporate wellness, apparently conflicting priorities must be balanced, particularly improving indoor environmental conditions has the potential to increase energy. This paper presents a framework to consider retrofits holistically and considering the benefit of improved conditions both qualitatively and quantitatively. Where poor conditions exist, published literature demonstrates a lost productivity cost that exceeds typical building energy costs, and this is quantified in the financial analysis presented. Energy retrofits provide a unique opportunity to integrate wellness-enabling features because the energy savings can offset marginal energy or operating cost increases for particular wellness interventions. This paper presents a flexible, customizable framework to develop potential retrofit bundles and evaluate them considering economic, sustainability, wellness, risk and occupant experience factors to identify the optimal zone of retrofit. An illustrative case study using real building data demonstrates how the framework might be applied to a real project and customized to achieve unique stakeholder priorities.