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Title: Human-Centred Smart Buildings: Reframing Smartness Through the Lens of Human-Building Interaction
Authors: Mitchell Finnigan, Samantha Jane
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: Smart buildings backed by data and algorithms promise reduced energy use and increased value for businesses and occupants. Yet, this has typically been considered from an engineering and systems perspective. Given increasing integration of sensing and ubiquitous computing technologies in modern built environments, a growing HumanComputer Interaction (HCI) and Human-Building Interaction (HBI) community has begun to advocate for the human-centred design of building technologies. This dissertation argues that there is a need for an inclusive, socially just and sustainable HBI agenda, to enable smarter buildings and facilities management. Deconstructing ‘smart’ rhetoric within HCI/HBI discourse and highlighting the values and ethics underpinning it, I argue that existing approaches to ‘smartness’ privilege automation and efficiency over the needs of human occupants. I undertake a qualitative inquiry into the roles of data and digital technologies in human-centred smart buildings through three case studies: i) How retrofitted environment sensors facilitate smarter energy auditing practices. I contribute a methodology for using sensor toolkits in auditing, technical design of the BuildAX sensing platform, and insights into sensoraugmented audits and how future standards might support these. ii) How data and digital technologies foster collective experiences of thermal comfort for office workers. I contribute a data elicitation interview method, design of the ThermoKiosk experience survey system, and considerations for integrating office tensions into workplace comfort management. iii) How HBI can support agency and participation in the everyday management and adaptation of a contemporary smart building. I contribute a ‘building walks’ method to elicit conversations on the future of building technologies, new understandings of how student occupants conceptualise and evaluate spaces, and how buildings of the future might better enable occupant agency. Through these, I contribute a re-framing of smartness to be more human-centred, including concerns for collaboration, inclusion, and human decision-making which does not consider occupants a ‘problem’ to be solved. The results of the case studies are synthesised into a set of six principles for the design of technology within human-centred smart buildings, re-grounding the field of HBI in the philosophy of environmental and social justice.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Computing

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