Office densification effects on comfort, energy, and carbon lifecycle performance: An integrated and exploratory study

E. Hoxha*, C. Liardet, T. Jusselme

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Generally, the environmental impacts of buildings are benchmarked per square meter as a functional unit. However, this practice prevents developing a user-centered approach in which performance is linked to real usage and not building size. Currently, the less a building is used, the lower the energy consumed during its use and, consequently, the impact per square meter, which does not make sense regarding both usability and environmental performance. Following user-centered design principles, the goal of the present research is to assess the environmental impact of buildings based on novel user-based functional units and to understand the environmental impact consequences of office occupation density. An experiment within the area of an academic office offered the opportunity to test the densification of working spaces and evaluate the resulting environmental and comfort impacts. In the end, the new user-based functional units highlight a reduction of all environmental indicators by almost 50 %. Also, the functional unit “eq-nominal people per effective presence” is introduced as most suitable to evaluate environmental performance according to real building usage, as a complement to square meter function units.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102032
JournalSustainable Cities and Society
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The work presented in this paper has been funded by the State of Fribourg (message du Consei d´Etat au Grand Conseil 2014-DEE-22 ) and the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland. We thank all anonymous participants as well as Hamed S. Alavi, Himanshu Verma, Stefano Cozza and Didier Vuarnoz for their valuable discussions. We also thank Atelier Oi for its contribution in designing the great, new office layouts.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd


  • Functional unit
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Office densification
  • User-centered assessment


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