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Welcome to the Research Design Connections blog, started in 2007. Recent blog entries are available here. Earlier blog entries (one for every working day since the beginning of May, 2007) are available to subscribers.

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Chraibi and colleagues investigated employee responses to dynamic workplace lighting that dims over a workstation when the person working there leaves their seat and brightens when someone returns to that workspace.  Installing dynamic lighting can be important because “Sensor-triggered control strategies can limit the energy consumption of lighting.” Via data collected in a mock-up office, the researchers learned that when  “the participants performed an office-based task [and] the luminaire above the actors’ desk was dimmed from approximately 550 lx to 350 lx (average horizontal illuminance), and vice versa. . . . the noticeability of light changes due to dimming, increases when fading times become shorter.  Dimming with a fading time of at least two seconds was experienced as acceptable by more than 70% of the participants.”  During the data gathering periods there was “dimming up when occupancy is detected and diming down when a desk becomes unoccupied.”  Of 6 lights in the test area, the intensity of only one varied, the light right above the workstation of a confederate of the researcher who entered or left the test area as instructed by the researchers. Data were collected from people sitting near that confederate and the lights remained on above the desks of the people answering the investigators’ questions. There was no natural light in the test area.

S. Chraibi, P. Creemers, C. Rosenkotter, E. van Loenen, M. Aries, and A. Rosemann. “Dimming Strategies for Open Office Lighting:  User Experience and Acceptance.”  Lighting Research and Technology, DOI: 10.1177/1477153518772154

MacNaughton and colleagues quantified some of the benefits of environmentally responsible design.  They “calculated year by year LEED . . . certification rates in six countries (the United States, China, India, Brazil, Germany, and Turkey) and then used data from the Green Building Information Gateway (GBIG) to estimate energy savings in each country each year. . . . LEED accounts for 32% of green-certified floor space and publically reports energy efficiency data. . . . Based on modeled energy use, LEED-certified buildings saved $7.5B in energy costs and averted 33MT of CO2, 51 kt of SO2, 38 kt of NOx, and 10 kt of PM2.5 from entering the atmosphere, which amounts to $5.8B (lower limit = $2.3B, upper limit = $9.1B) in climate and health co-benefits from 2000 to 2016 in the six countries investigated. The U.S. health benefits derive from avoiding an estimated 172–405 premature deaths, 171 hospital admissions, 11,000 asthma exacerbations, 54,000 respiratory symptoms, 21,000 lost days of work, and 16,000 lost days of school.”

P. MacNaughton, X. Cao, J. Buonocore, J. Cedeno-Laurent, J. Spengler, A. Bernstein, and J. Allen.  “Energy Savings, Emission Reductions, and Health Co-Benefits of the Green Building Movement.”  Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology, in press, doi: 10.1038/s41370-017-0014-9

Walker, Scallon, and Francis studied links between sensory experiences. They report that “Everyday language reveals how stimuli encoded in one sensory feature domain can possess qualities normally associated with a different domain (e.g., higher pitch sounds are brightlight in weightsharp, and thin). Such cross-sensory associations appear to reflect crosstalk among aligned (corresponding) feature dimensions, including brightness, heaviness, and sharpness. . . . When hidden objects varying independently in size and mass are lifted, objects that feel heavier are judged to be darker and to make lower pitch sounds than objects feeling less heavy.”

Peter Walker, Gabrielle Scallon, and Brian Francis. 2017.  “Cross-Sensory Correspondences:  Heaviness is Dark and Low-Pitched.”  Perception, vol. 46, no. 7, 772-792, https://doi.org/10.1177/0301006616684369 

The design of hospital emergency departments can have life-and-death implications, literally. Naccarella and colleagues investigated “design factors that influence informal interprofessional team-based communication within hospital emergency departments. . . . Three key factors influenced the extent to which ED workspaces facilitated informal communication: (1) staff perceptions of privacy, (2) staff perceptions of safety, and (3) staff perceptions of connectedness to ED activity.. . . Our research supports the proposition that ED physical environments influence informal team communication patterns. To facilitate effective team communication, ED workspace spatial designs need to provide visibility and connectedness, support and capture ‘case talk,’ enable privacy for ‘comfort talk,’ and optimize proximity to patients without compromising safety.”

Lucio Naccarella, Michelle Raggatt, and Bernie Redley.  “The Influence of Spatial Design on Team Communication in Hospital Emergency Departments.”  HERD:  Health Environments Research and Design Journal, in press, https://doi.org/10.1177/1937586718800481

Hooper and colleagues set out to learn more about the consequences of living in new urbanist communities.  They studied 36 suburban neighborhood developments in Perth and determined that “with each 10% increase in [new urbanist] policy compliance, residents odds of experiencing high sense of community increased by 21% . . . and low psychological distress increased by 14%. . . . These results add empirical input to the debate surrounding the rhetoric and purported social goals and benefits of the New Urbanism, indicating that implementation of its neo-traditionalist neighborhood design principles may help create the conditions for positive neighborhood sense of community and mental health.”

Paula Hooper, Sarah Foster, and Matthew Knuiman and Billie Gilles-Corti.  “Testing the Impact of a Planning Policy Based on New Urbanist Planning Principles on Residents’ Sense of Community and Mental Health in Perth, Western Australia.” Environment and Behavior, in press, https://doi.org/10.1177/0013916518798882

Urban and Sailer investigated the relationship between workplace green building certification and occupant satisfaction.  They “analyz[ed] DGNB (German Green Building Council), BREEAM, and LEED certification and rating systems and match[ed] this with quantitative research into office buildings’ occupant satisfaction.  The aim [was] to explore whether highly rated buildings are also perceived as excellent by users. . . . this research [the reported research] focus[ed] on the socio-cultural rating criteria within the DGNB system.” Data from a post-occupancy evaluation at a DGNB certified office building indicated that “an excellent Green Building rating does not allow the prediction of high occupant satisfaction within a certified building.”

Markus Urban and Kerstin Sailer.  2018. “Checking a Green Building Myth – The Relation of Occupant Satisfaction and Rating Levels in Offices.”  In Suvi Nenonen, Alpo Salmisto, and Vitalijia Danivska (eds.) Proceedings of the 1stTransdisciplinary Workplace Research Conference, Tampere, Finland, pp. 47-48.

Olafsdottir and her colleagues evaluated the effects of recreational walking in different settings on the mood and stress levels of university students.  They state that  “We hypothesized that walking in nature has restorative effects over and above the effects of exposure to nature scenes (viewing nature on TV) or physical exercise alone (walking on a treadmill in a gym) and that these effects are greater when participants were expected to be more stressed. . . .  Mood and psychophysiological responses were assessed before and after the interventions, and again after a laboratory stressor. All interventions had [statistically significant] restorative effects on cortisol levels . . . yet walking in nature resulted in [statistically significant] lower cortisol levels than did nature viewing . . .  during the exam period. Walking in nature improved mood [statistically significantly] more than watching nature scenes or physical exercise alone [effect also statistically significant].”  Cortisol is a hormone that is released when people are stressed.

Gunnthora Olafsdottir, Paul Cloke, Andre Schulz, Zoe van Dyck, Thor Eysteinsson, Bjorg Thorleifsdottir, and Claus Vogele. “Health Benefits of Walking in Nature:  A Randomized Controlled Study Under Conditions of Real-Life Stress.”  Environment and Behavior, in press, https://doi.org/10.1177/001391651880798

Decades ago Csikszentmihalyi introduced the world to “flow.”  Isham and colleagues integrated the concepts of flow and environmental management and report that “Csikszentmihalyi suggested that engaging in challenging, flow-conducive activities is a means by which individuals can improve well-being without substantially affecting the environment. . . . we test this proposal by examining data concerning the daily experiences and well-being of 500 U.S. families. We show that individuals who experience stronger characteristics of flow in their leisure activities tend to have greater momentary well-being, whereas those experiencing flow more frequently report greater retrospective well-being. Moreover, a small negative relationship was found between an activity’s flow score and its environmental impact [i.e., more flow, less impact].”

Amy Isham, Birgitta Gatersleben, and Tim Jackson.  “Flow Activities As a Route to Living Well With Less.”  Environment and Behavior, in press, https://doi.org/10.1177/0013916518799826

Research indicating how distracting the presence of smartphones is continues to accumulate; smartphones have a significant effect even when we’re not speaking on them.  This collection of findings indicates how important it is to effectively eliminate other distractions in workplaces and otherwise support research-informed design, as smartphones will be a continuing a presence in work environments.  The Ward-lead team found that “even when people are successful at maintaining sustained attention—as when avoiding the temptation to check their phones—the mere presence of these devices reduces available cognitive capacity. . . . these cognitive costs are highest for hose highest in smartphone dependence.”

Adrian Ward, Kristen Duke, Ayelet Gneezy, and Maarten Bos.  “Brain Drain:  The Mere Presence of One’s Own Smartphone Reduces Available Cognitive Capacity.”  Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 140-154, http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/691462

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