Authors: Caroline Cassavoy, Michelle Drollette, Jason Frantzen, Pablo Garcia, Carlin MacDougall, Philip Shiva Mandell, Aleksandr Mergold, Vladimir Pajkic, Sneha Patel, Nicholas Rajkovich, and John Tsai
School: Cornell University
|Abstract: The National Audubon Society, in
cooperation with the Croxton Collaborative, renovated an eight story building in lower
Manhattan with the intent of creating a working example of sustainable architecture. An
undergraduate seminar at Cornell University studied the Audubon House during the spring of
1998. After an exploratory visit to the building, the student team decided to focus their
investigation upon the performance of the building's lighting systems. Based upon their
observations during their initial visit, the students hypothesized that the lighting
system did not function as intended. They questioned whether the system responded to the
variety of lighting conditions at the building and met the needs of occupants. To test
their hypothesis the students in the seminar investigated the distribution of illumination
on a typical office floor, lighting power density, penetration of daylight into offices,
patterns of electrical lighting use, patterns of use for window blinds, energy use and
savings, and occupant perceptions of glare and general lighting conditions.
Left: Daylight penetration.
The investigation found that the lighting system partially performs as intended. The students discovered that daylight does not penetrate deeply into the building. However, occupants are pleased with the sense of daylight in offices that is made possible by direct visual connection to the exterior windows from virtually all areas of the space. The students found that the lighting control system is not operating at maximum efficiency because of broken, disconnected or uncalibrated occupancy and daylight sensors. The spatial layout and low workstation partitions, which improved visual access to exterior windows, led to a lack of privacy and noise control problems. The students found that building occupants, many of whom did not begin their employment until after the renovation of the building, did not understand the intent underlying a number design decisions, such as the choice to install low height partitions.
The student team does not consider this a conclusive analysis of the building. Rather they hope their study serves as the beginning of future inquiries that further investigate the issues of design, environmental impact, and occupant experience, raised by the example of the Audubon Building.
Background: Professor Kwok received a $5000 Vital Signs teaching grant for the spring 1998 term that helped support the seminar. This study, produced as a team by the seminar students, won first prize in the undergraduate division of the 1998 Vital Signs Student Case Study Competition. The competition jury believed this a model student case study. They were very impressed by the depth of the student investigation and the care with which it was executed. Jury comments included:
"Covers a lot. A broad hypothesis that was then clearly broken down into manageable components."
"Didn't try to cover all green aspects. Focussed on lighting and got good data."
"The students show the process they followed very clearly from beginning to end. They didn't assume anything. They asked intelligent questions and used measurement tools carefully and correctly. Look at the slings they developed to properly place the Hobo loggers!"
"They engaged and surveyed the occupants. The findings are clearly stated, but recognize real world ambiguities."
All contents copyright (C) 1998. Vital Signs Project. All rights reserved.