Discipline: Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences
Subcategory: Social Sciences/Psychology/Economics
Emily Wong - University of Washington
Co-Author(s): Aurora Bender, Nicole Peterson, and Christopher Meek, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Stair climbing is a vigorous physical activity that contributes to improving health and reducing energy consumption (Eves et al., 2006). The Bullitt Center, a green commercial office building, has been actively designed to encourage stair usage through strategically placing an aesthetically designed stairway next to the main entrance, while placing the elevator toward the back of the building. Commercial office buildings use a large amount of energy, accounting for nearly 40% of primary energy usage in the United States, which can lead to issues regarding environmental suitability; thus, it is important to reduce the energy usage when possible (Untapped Potential, 2010). Furthermore, office workers typically spend most of their time in an inactive state, contributing to the growing epidemic of obesity and sedentary lifestyles in America. Fourteen Bi-directional People Counters were placed in the main stairway – the “irresistible stair”, the fire stairway, and elevator. The data from these People Counters were used to analyze and compare different patterns of intra-building travel within the building in order to determine the health and energy implications of choosing to use the stairs over the elevator. Active architectural design in the Bullitt Center proved to be effective, as the majority of ascending and descending trips took place on the ‘irresistible stair’. The physical health benefits of stair climbing were determined by estimating the amount of calories burned and how that contributes to weight loss, as it has been suggested by the American Journal of Health Promotion that 1-2 minute bouts of moderate to vigorous physical activity are associated with lower BMI and lower weight (Fan et al., 2013). The energy required for an elevator to ascend one floor was calculated based off of the estimated energy usage of a KONE eco-efficient regenerative elevator; from this, the annual cost of energy, along with carbon emission levels were derived to show the energy significance of elevator usage. In regards to increasing physical activity in the workplace, a mobile application was designed for office workers to track their physical activity within the office building and compete with their coworkers for social accountability and support. Implementing this experiment in other commercial office buildings in the future would be helpful to determine ways to address both the sedentary office lifestyles and the high energy consumption.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): The State of Washington through the Clean Energy Institute, University of Washington GenOM Project (NIH 5425HG007153-03), NSF-EFRI 1038165 (PI, Taya), Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA), Dr. Anne Dinning, and Dr. Michael Wolf.
Faculty Advisor: Aurora Bender, N/A