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THE EFFECT OF INDOOR ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY OF A GREEN BUILDING TOWARDS ITS USER'S/OCCUPANT'S LEVEL OF COMFORT
Green buildings need an approach including consideration towards health and wellbeing of the occupants in every aspects of the build projects, not only for the individual apartment unit but for the entire building, based on a wider context about the environment and the community around. This matter can be a huge approach which need an integrated thinking for the architects, designers, developers and government who is responsible in the community planning (Plass N 2007). Even though we are still in early stage, building a sustainable building nowadays is an establish concept with increasing rate of demand in most countries where it is supported by government in Europe, America, China, Hong Kong, Japan, and Korea. These government have been promoted by their respective Green Building Councils. In a rate where ages is threatened by the climate nowadays, there is an increasing demand for energy and resource efficient building, but there is also a need to build a healthy and comfortable homes that is not affected by undue emissions of harmful substances (Yu CWF 2010), glare (PR 2010) or insufficient lighting (Lim HS 2010), noise (Han MH 2010), hot and cold climate (Daghigh R 2009), where occupants can actually feel safe, can interact with each other freely and can build hope for our future. For commercial buildings, there are reports of evidence about the environmentally certified buildings are raising in the aspects of personal control, day lighting, thermal comfort, air quality and noise reduction which can increase the productivity of individuals in order for them to do work or business operation (Lee YS 2010). Meanwhile this current research is also about the review of environmental assessment schemes based on IEQ issues where it can give a huge impact on the satisfaction level of occupants.
(Browning W 1995) have made a report on the multiple pre-post observational studies which examined the effect on energy efficient designs on the productivity of the workers. one of their study is involving an energy efficient retrofit to the Main Post Office in Reno, Nevada. A new ceiling was fitted inside the building for an improvement of illumination, temperature, and noise within the range of mail sorting room. Productivity finally been reported to have the results in increased of 6-8% after the retrofit installed. Similar to other single-group pre post study of this kind, however, one's needs to be more careful when stating other reasons for the observed increase. They also argue about the issue of coincidental plan to improve productivity in time of the retrofit which they stated that there are none and the productivity was always measured. Unfortunately, the graph that they presented only show the raising of the productivity followed by retrofit. If productivity was measured as a normal operation, it would be a sourceful information to show the productivity data during the pre-retrofit period. They stated that productivity that been acquired in Reno Office are higher compare to other sorters in western region of United States. However, the data for this other offices are not presented. Therefore, the evidences that proves the relationship between energy efficient design and the productivity in this study was not strong. Furthermore, the retrofit also mentioned about lighting, temperature and sound. So, it can be clearly said that there is not possible for attributing the report in the improvement of productivity from the particular change, only retrofit in general.
Almost the same, the second example cited by (Browning W 1995) is about the Nederlandshe Middenstandbank. It involved a lot of change to the new building- one of it could not be claimed as unique between green buildings, whether the S-curve ground plan which have gardens, courtyards, restaurants and meeting rooms. Along with that it is also not possible to attribute the report that stated 15% reduction in absenteeism of green features in the new building where the features include are day lighting, and natural ventilation through operable windows.
The third example by (Browning W 1995) was a Walmart Store which had installed skylights at about the range of one half of the store. It was reported that the sales (per square foot) was higher than other department which situated in day-lit half. However, the results can be given other reasons on why this situation happen between the two groups of department.
(J 2000) had done a reviewed literature on the topic of green buildings and the occupant's productivity. One of the study that he cited is research from (Browning W 1995). Another one is from (A 1999) where he concluded that comfort and productivity that can be seen is higher in a building where occupants have control over ambient condition and where the building provide both natural and air conditioning. All of this research actually have the same conclusion. (Menzies D 1997) concluded that the productivity was increased by 11% (if compare with controlled groups) for the workers that have been given full control over the total and direction of the air flow in their work space.
(Brager GS 1998) reported that there is a relationship between personal control in environmental conditions, especially temperature and ventilation, and work performance. However, (Brager GS 1998) also noted about the research from (Preller L 1990) which shows absenteeism that were related with Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) should be 34% lower if the employees were giving full control over the temperature and ventilation. This situation had produce a link between green building and productivity which become the mediator for air quality and SBS beside comfort. From this, guided by the relationship between green building and IEQ (for example comfort), it can be said that the existent proof is very weak and if there is a link, it is said that it was attributed to personal control on the ambient conditions. This kind of matter should be given an attention to investigate whether or not comfort relates to satisfaction.
In a review of environmental psychology, (Sundstrom E 1996) had underline couple of theories which guided the research on transaction between human and physical environment topics including the workplace. In these theories are arousal, environmental load, stress and adaptation, privacy regulation, transactional approach, and ecological psychology and behavior setting theories. Hypothesis for arousal is to predict the optimum satisfaction and performance while under the condition of moderate arousal. This had given an opinion on how temperature, sound and lighting can influenced the satisfaction level and performance through psychosocial arousal. On overload hypothesis, people is considered having a limited capacity to process stimuli and information and predicted that we confront them with an overload, for example noise overload, where we choose in progress for incoming information and ignoring the low-priority inputs. The research in environmental stress and adaptation had recognized the relationships between temperature and sound with physiological and psychological stress (for example chronic illness, and psychological impairement) and facing adaptive behaviors to reduce the effects/ stress. (Sundstrom E 1996) stated empirical discovery in general is consistent with this hypothesis.
(Vilnai-Yavetz I 2005) proposed that office designers should denounce the three separate principle which is the instrumentality, aesthetics and symbolism. Instrumentality is about the stage where physical attribute of an office supported their needed activities. Aesthetics refer to the beauty of the office. The study also state about the research that discover 'beautiful' rooms (as opposed to 'ugly' rooms) have a significant difference on effect to the perceptions and emotions not counting for short/long term. The third principle is symbolism, which refer to the relationships that created by a space. the writer found difference statistically between these two principles, that is instrumentality and aesthetics and job satisfaction and performance.
Big portion of all of the projects that occupants in offices been through needs mental labour compare to physical labour , where it relates with the office environment that should be more related to comfort. Furthermore, declination of interior environment will reduce the level of capacity of the occupants, where it will cause the reducing of productivity and increasing the stress level. So, keeping a better office is very crucial.(Brasche S 2001).
As the summary, beside of all these evidences are still blur, there are a few of character that can be categorized as unique, or at least more common towards green building that have been linked to the quality of the indoor environment. Besides that, there are evidences which can relate comfort with features that grant personal control towards temperature and ventilation. Furthermore, there are proof on how comfort is relating to workplace satisfaction. The aim of this study is to test a statement, (1) green building create more comfortable space (2) better comfort will guide to a higher overall satisfaction. This statement will be test with methods of understanding the IEQ i a green building and how it influence the comfort and satisfaction perception of the occupants. Green building in this research is a building that situated in the vicinity of a city in Malaysia, where Malaysia is famous for typical tropical climate. The variable of the climate in Malaysia is not based on the temperature or air pressure but rainfall. In general, the climate in Malaysia can be describe where its coastal plain temperature averaging 28°C. With this type of climate, it will be a unique opportunity for this type of study to see the manner of the IEQ of green buildings in Malaysia react to their occupant's level of comfort.
Browning W, R. J. (1995). Greening the bottom line: increasing productivity through energy efficient design. In: Second international green buildings conference and exposition. Gaithersburg, MD, National Institute of Standards and Technology.