Software Development . . .

Research projects at the Center for Building Performance and Diagnostics

EnviroSoft: expert walkthough data collection

NEAT, which stands for National Environmental Assessment Toolkit, is a post occupancy evaluation project conducted at the Center for Building Performance and Diagnostics. A significant component of this project is the EnviroSoft software that collects building data, such as measurements or physical indices, and evaluates the performance with respect to thermal, visual, acoustic, spatial, and indoor air quality.

Complete list of Neat Indices

A typical scenario for using the EnviroSoft software during an expert walkthrough is as follows. The expert will walk around a building with a tablet PC displaying a floor plan of this same building. He/she enters a space and measures (temperatures, lighting levels, carbon dioxide, sound level, etc) and records this on the corresponding space in his electronic floor plan. He/she records physical indices that may be a cause of disturbance in the space. For instance a high volume printer near a workstation produces noise as well as odors in the workstation. Other examples include headphones indicating acoustic shielding, or heaters indicating thermal dissatisfaction with the building's mechanical system, or backrests indicating discomfort with the seating. Once the building data is entered, the user can view summaries of the data in the form of building "EKG" that indicate the total health of the building

EnviroSoft is developed using the ArcView GIS object library and Visual Basic scripting. It uses the ArcView's spatial analysis capabilities and augments these with a customized suite of features that are specific to our data collection and data evaluation requirements. The stressors and spaces in EnviroSoft are represented as point and polygon features respectively. Indices and measures are visually represented as icons and the basic performance categories of visual, thermal, acoustic, spatial, and air quality are color coded. Building zones (such as open and closes, core and perimeter) are also indicated by different colors. I developed scripts that (1) allow users to enter our specialized measures and stressors with a single click, (2) import measures and stressors that were recorded in other sources, (3) allow users to zone spaces or edit them, (4) process the data internally to produce the summary "EKG" and scatter plots evaluating measurement values with respect to ASHRAE standards comfort zones.

Scatter plot for air temperature

Summary for visual indices

Summary for thermal measures

The EnviroSoft software was developed simultaneously as the data collection and analysis strategies were developed. The process was cyclic: EnviroSoft features were produced, and then tested in the field to gather actual building data on a quarterly basis. Problems were discovered, and EnviroSoft was refined.

We are currently investigating Server versions and Pocket PC versions of ArcView GIS to make the NEAT software a mobile tool that communicates wirelessly with a central server

EnviroQuest : Online data collection

I also developed a suite of online questionnaires, EnviroQuest, for analyzing workplace productivity, which was part of the NEAT data collection project. This project was implemented in HTML and ASP (active server pages) to access and retrieve questions and answers from the central database. JavaScript provided real-time consistency checking of the user's answers.

Satisfaction questionnaire

Worktools questionnaire

Time questionnaire

Results of one user's responses

Results of a user responses compared with the average response