Latest Blog Posts
Won, Lee, and Li studied links between walkability and foreclosure spillover effects (such as property prices declining near foreclosures). They determined that “property values in walkable neighborhoods were less subject to foreclosure spillover, but this was only significant for middle/high-income neighborhoods. Walkable neighborhoods were shown to offer more advantages in maintaining neighborhood stability during the recovery of 2013 than in the market crash of 2010. This study supports development strategies and policies that include walkability to achieve neighborhood stability and livability.”
Jaewoong Won, Chanam Lee and Wei Li. “Are Walkable Neighborhoods More Resilient to the Foreclosure Spillover Effects?” Journal of Planning Education and Research, in press.
A team lead by Heo has found more evidence that seeing blue light, particularly at night, is energizing. The researchers “investigated the immediate effects of smartphone blue light LED on humans at night. . . . Each subject played smartphone games with either conventional LED or suppressed blue light from 7:30 to 10:00PM (150 min). Then, they were readmitted and conducted the same procedure with the other type of smartphone. . . . use of blue light smartphones was associated with significantly decreased sleepiness . . . and confusion-bewilderment . . . and increased commission error.”
J. Heo, K. Kim, M. Fava, D. Mischoulon, G. Papakostas, M. Kim, D. Kim, K. Chang, Y. Oh, B. Yu, and H. Jeon. 2017. “Effects of Smartphone Use With and Without Blue Light at Night in Healthy Adults: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Cross-Over, Placebo-Controlled Comparison.” Journal of Psychiatric Research, vol. 87, pp. 61-70.
DiGiacomo lead a study that assessed how the location of recycling and composting bins influences their use. Details: “[the researchers] placed bins in three different locations: a garbage disposal area (the least convenient option), at the base of an elevator in a building (a more convenient option), and by elevator doors on each floor (the most convenient option). The experiments were carried out at three multi-family apartment buildings in Vancouver’s west side neighbourhood and in two student residence buildings at UBC. . . . when compost bins were placed on each floor in the apartment buildings, instead of on the ground floor, composting rates increased by 70 per cent, diverting 27 kilograms of compost from the landfill per unit per year. When recycling stations were placed just 1.5 meters from suites in student residences, instead of in the basement, recycling and composting increased by an average of 141 per cent, diverting an average of nearly 20 kilograms of waste from the landfill per person per year.” Data were collected over 10 weeks. This study has been published in the Journal of Environmental Planning and Management.
“Making Bins More Convenient Boosts Recycling and Composting Rates.” 2017. Press release, The University of British Columbia, http://news.ubc.ca/2017/04/20/making-bins-more-convenient-boosts-recycli...
Romero and Biswas learned that to encourage consumption, healthier options should be placed to the left of unhealthier ones. Their work determined that “displaying healthy items to the left (vs. right) of unhealthy items enhances preference for the healthy options. In addition, consumption volume of a healthy item (vis-à-vis an unhealthy item) is higher when it is placed to the left (vs. right) of the unhealthy item. We propose that a ‘healthy-left, unhealthy-right’ (vs. healthy-right, unhealthy- left) lateral display pattern is congruent with consumers’ mental organization of food items varying in healthfulness, which enhances ease of processing and in turn enhances self-control, thereby leading to a relatively higher likelihood of choosing healthy options. . . . The findings of our research have important implications for designing retail food displays and restaurant menus.”
Marisabel Romero and Dipayan Biswas. 2016. “Healthy-Left Unhealthy-Right: Can Displaying Healthy Items to the Left (Versus Right) of Unhealthy Items Nudge Healthier Choices?” Journal of Consumer Research, vol. 43, no. 1, pp. 103-112.
De Groot, Semin, and Smeets provide additional information about how scents influence how we interact with each other. Since current, generally available, technologies do not support human communication via smells, face-to-face meetings will remain important for the foreseeable future. As de Groot and his team report “Humans use multiple senses to navigate the social world, and the sense of smell is arguably the most underestimated one. An intriguing aspect of the sense of smell is its social communicative function. Research has shown that human odors convey information about a range of states (e.g., emotions, sickness) and traits (e.g., individuality, gender).”
Jasper de Groot, Gun Semin, and Monique Smeets. 2017. “On the Communicative Function of Body Odors: A Theoretical Integration and Review.” Perspectives on Psychological Science, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 306-324.
At the web address below, the Center for the Built Environment at Berkeley shares a free tool for evaluating thermal comfort.
As the web page introducing the tool states, the CBE’s objectives were, in part, to “Develop a web-based graphical user interface for thermal comfort prediction according to ASHRAE Standard 55. Include models for conventional building systems (predicted mean vote) and also for comfort using the adaptive comfort model, and with increased air speeds (for example, when using fans for cooling).”
The CBE reports on the same website that “The standard convention of attempting to maintain a narrow temperature band can be an energy-intensive practice. Instead, using CBE’s comfort prediction tools with ASHRAE Standard-55 as a guide, designers may find that a wider temperature band will provide adequate comfort and save a significant amount of energy. . . . the tool can be used to assess the comfort of low-energy designs. A building that has provisions for air-movement (such as ceiling fans or desk fans) can use the predicted mean vote (PMV) model with elevated airspeed. In a naturally ventilated building, the adaptive comfort model can be used. This tool . . . verif[ies] compliance with ASHRAE Standard 55-2013.” The thermal comfort of various scenarios can be compared.
The CBE thermal comfort tool is available at: https://www.cbe.berkeley.edu/research/thermal-tool.htm#publications
Chadburn, Smith, and Milan studied the reactions of knowledge-workers in London to various workplace options. They found that this group responded positively to “a flexible range of office settings that enable both a stimulating open and connected work environment, knowledge sharing, collaboration, as well as, quiet concentration locations, free of distractions and noise. . . . hot-desking was unanimously disliked by knowledge workers.”
Ana Chadburn, Judy Smith, and Joshua Milan. 2017. “Productivity Drivers of Knowledge Workers in the Central London Office Environment.” Journal of Corporate Real Estate, vol. 19, no. 2, http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/JCRE-12-2015-0047
Researchers from the Universities of York and Edinburgh studied responses to busy and green urban spaces. They determined that among the people over 65 who participated in their study “Walking between busy urban environments and green spaces triggers changes in levels of excitement, engagement and frustration in the brain. . . . volunteers. . . wore a mobile EEG head-set which recorded their brain activity when walking between busy and green urban spaces. The research team also ran a video of the routes the people walked, asking the participants to describe ‘snapshots’ of how they felt. The volunteers were also interviewed before and after. The volunteers experienced beneficial effects of green space and preferred it, as it was calming and quieter, the study revealed. Dr. Chris Neale, Research Fellow, from the University of York’s Stockholm Environment Institute, said: ‘Urban green space has a role to play in contributing to a supportive city environment for older people through mediating the stress induced by built up settings. We found that older participants experienced beneficial effects of green space whilst walking between busy built urban environments and urban green space environments.’”
“Why Green Spaces are Good for Grey Matter.” 2017. Press release, University of York, https://www.york.ac.uk/news-and-events/news/2017/research/green-spaces-g...
Researchers studied ties between neighborhood noise levels and body mass index. Their study “links the sounds of all-night car horn blasts and shouting by bar revelers in New York City’s noisiest neighborhoods to unexplained improvements in body weight and blood pressure for the urban poor living there. ‘To be clear, we’re not saying that neighborhood noise causes better health, and a lot of further research is needed to explain the relationship we found between this kind of disturbance and health,’ says senior study investigator and NYU Langone epidemiologist Dustin Duncan, ScD. ‘It may just be that New York’s noisiest neighborhoods are also the most walkable and that its residents get more exercise that way.’ . . . Specifically, researchers observed relatively lower body mass index (or BMI, a measure of body weight by height) and blood pressure among . . . men and women in the city’s noisiest neighborhoods. All . . . participants . . . lived in affordable public housing. . . . Researchers gauged noise levels based on . . . noise complaints placed to the city’s 3-1-1 non-emergency phone system in 2014. . . . participants volunteered to carry GPS tracking devices for a week to track in real time where they spent their spare time.” The study reporting these findings is published in the Journal of Community Health.
“Could New York Neighborhood Noise Be Good for Poor Residents?” 2017. Press release, NYU Langone Medical Center, http://nyulangone.org/press-releases/could-new-york-neighborhood-noise-b...
Kylen and her colleagues investigated how living situations influenced the wellbeing of people aged 67-70. They found that “depression was less common among participants who reported . . . bonding to the home, and among those who felt that they had control over their housing situation. . . . external housing-related control beliefs were associated with psychological well-being.” So, generally, housing-related control was linked to greater psychological wellbeing and lower likelihood of depression. Data were collected in southern Sweden.
Maya Kylen, Steven Schmidt, Susanne Iwarsson, Maria Haak, and Henrik Ekstrom. “Perceived Home is Associated with Depressive Mood and Psychological Well-Being - Results from a Cohort Aged 67-70 Years.” Journal of Environmental Psychology, in press.