ReFresh: Remodeling Building Design Sustainability from a Human Centered Approach

Lead Research Organisation: University of Southampton
Department Name: Sch of Electronics and Computer Sci


Abstracts are not currently available in GtR for all funded research. This is normally because the abstract was not required at the time of proposal submission, but may be because it included sensitive information such as personal details.
Description The Refresh project has thee arms: Universities of Reading, Leeds and Southampton (with separate funding) - whree we are exploring the impact of urban microclimate on building ventilation for optimal performance of occupants. We have used a range of methods (measurements, wind-tunnel modelling, CFD, qualitative interviews, controlled EEG tests) across idealised and realistic buildings to understand better how we respond to poor air quality, and how natural ventilation can help to improve it.

Human-building interactions is a main focus of the Southampton Work

Experimentally we focus on how people respond to poor indoor air quality (IAQ), and how technology could assist to create more support Our work in fundamental science - understanding in particular cognitive function in various IAQ settings. A number of studies have been done to understand the social determinants of Indoor Environmental Quality in offices

In one study we carries out semi-structured interviews with occupants of naturally ventilated offices.

* Office environments were identified by occupants as being poor sometimes (ie too hot/cold, stuffy). Adjustments to windows, thermostats, radiators were made through negotiation with others, especially those who "owned" windows by sitting next to them. Other "gate-keepers" included building managers who adjusted the environment heating or ventilation. [Snow CHI 2016]

A controlled experiment, testing the effect of "fresh" (low CO2 concentrations) and "stale" air (high CO2 concentrations) on cognitive performance, was done at the University of Southampton. EEG was used to monitor brain state and was as an objective measure of sleepiness. Other physiological, psychological and Sick Building Syndrome factors were also monitored. (work in submission)

* Cognitive performance was affected even after short exposures (<40 minutes) to high CO2, more so in people who were already sleepy. As there was no other measurable effect on participants, this suggests that poor indoor air quality can impact cognitive performance of office-workers prior to them being aware of it. IAQ feedback displays could assist people in changing their work environment for the better. [Snow BE in review]

A device recording and displaying CO2 and relative humidity levels ("The Aether") was designed and trialled in offices. Based on the finding that IEQ is partly socially negotiated, the device needed to be visible to all - a "situated technology", like a clock on the wall.
* A simple IAQ feedback device achieved straightforward sense-making, where participants understood the relationship between its readings, air quality, and the need to ventilate the room. Positive design features were its focus on only one indoor pollutant (CO2) and its minimal cues (simple traffic light display colours). [work in submission to DIS2019]

an opportunity for inteaction design is to better support groups working in older offices where air flow is problematic - where there is a hierarchy of control around who gets to open a window or door to adjust temperature.
By providing data about the state of the room and exploring options for comfort in real time, we can help create a more effective work environment - blending technology to help support social work practices.

Another aspect of the project has been to contribute to a new area of Human Computer Interaction, becoming known as "Inbodied Interaction" where fundamental research about how the state of the body affects cognitive performance is contributing not only foundations for interaction but to our understandings of human performance. THis work has informed the development of several international workshops in leading computer science venues (cited in publications) like ACH SIGCHI (2019, 2019) and UIST 2019
Exploitation Route we imagine that building standards to architects to line managers will use our results to help craft a human-centered not just building/energy centered approach to environments.

Ventilation results are of potential interest to engineering consultants, architects and building service engineers who design ventilation systems for buildings or building layout/design in city redevelopment plans. Results will also be of interest to emergency responders in the case of contaminant ingress in buildings. Human-Building Interaction results are of interest to Human Computer Interaction practitioners and occupants and building managers making the most of existing buildings.

ReFRESH has been a fantastic award for facilitating a variety of engagements with researchers across disciplines that otherwise might not have been possible.

Most recently it has opened up an entirely novel area research that we have been developing through the end of ReFresh and are carrying into other related projects - Please see the Narrative section for this overview.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Electronics,Energy,Environment,Healthcare,Transport

Description As a consequence of the approach to put breathing/stress into the COVID context, members of our team have been invited to run a series of workshops in industry to help staff in these organizations work better during covid. ------------ UPDATE 2022 During COVID, we were also able to explore breathing in relation not just in terms of interaction with CO2 and supporting better awareness of air quality, but also with colleagues who were on the government's expert strategy group around COVID, who are also co-investigators on ReFresh, we were also able to begin exploring how to synthesize co-presence better for vital meetings taking place online. THis facilitated an internal pilot at our univserity and in collaboration with colleagues at Microsoft Research Cambridge around what we have been calling "ayncrhonous co-presence" - to use the time before meetings to enhance quality of the meeting. Though this project has concluded, this work on "synthesizing co-presence" is also been supported by EPSRC to leverage some of our resource in our AutoTrust platform grant. We are just completing initial formal trials of the methodology for the remote interaction and, now that restrictions are being eased, we are looking at the comparison of our method with real-time physical co-presence. BREATHING state is one of our key metrics of state that is helping us understand engagement. Thus our work is innovating new ways to use tools readily available in people's technology right now - such as their computer's cameras and microphones - to provide new physiological state information towards a better understanding of how we can synthesize co-presence. Regardless of another pandemic, we are all looking at the value of remote or hybrid meetings in terms of sustainability, efficiency and increasing engagement opportunities. We are also particularly interested in the neurophysiology of co-presence that is NOT capgured by current audio/video signals to be able to better support these qualities. Loneliness is a bigger killer than any other non-communicable disease combined. There is no research to show at the cohort level that being online as we all have been during covid eases these material ills of loneliness. Indeed the reports are more the opposite: that many people across ages have reported their experiences which are those we are familiar with usually in elders who cannot get out much> Our working premise is that if we can better understand and synthesize co-presence, we will not replace it, but by improving the qualities of the virtual towards feeling more real, we may help redress co-morbidiites of loneliness. Without the work in the foundation of ReFresh and the intersidicplinary collaboration, we would not have had these insights or opportunities to reach into an increasingly important area of research for possible digital intervention.
First Year Of Impact 2021
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Electronics,Energy,Environment,Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Transport
Impact Types Societal,Economic

Title Aligning new Tools for Post COVID work with Physiology of Movement, Breathing for Knowledge Acquistion 
Description COVID offers us an opportunity now to broaden our original conecption of refresh focussing on indoor air quality effects on knowledge work, to how we can better leverage intearcting with "Refreshing" environments for home/office hybrid knowledge work. Reports are indicating that sedentary work at home is more constrained for most people than knowledge work at work. Breathing rates as we have seen in our forthcoming related work (Tabor et al, CHI 2021) significantly effect focus, stress, perception. We will be investigating how more knowledge work carried out outside affects breathing, perceived exertion and types of learning. We will also be correlating these explorations with air quality measures. The role of AR is to see how we can use such diplays to augment what kinds of knowledge work that can be carried out outside in the light, air, microbiome - with movement - to support types of insights. We are also particularly interested in how such refreshing work outside can benefit then moving back indoors. 
Type Of Material Physiological assessment or outcome measure 
Year Produced 2021 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact This is nascent research based on available science. Provisional study design has been accepted at a forthcoming workshop at the leading international HCI conference (CHI) where we will be gaining feedback from community experts for further development. 
Title low cost CO2 detection series 
Description We developed a low cost CO2 detector that can be used in series with multiple dectors - we aslo tested calibration accuracy against gold standard indoor air monitoring 
Type Of Technology Detection Devices 
Year Produced 2018 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact We have made low cost co2 monitoring accessible for groups and organizations, as well as details for positioning for least number of devices to get best readings for areas like lecture halls.