How do green buildings communicate green design to building users? A survey study of a Leed-certified building

Susie Ruqun Wu, Suk Kyung Kim, Hogeun Park, Peilei Fan, Arika Ligmann-Zielinska, Jiquan Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Studies investigating the benefits of green buildings can be approached by the affordance theory—the perceived properties of a thing that determine how it could possibly be used. This study focuses on the sustainable communication and education that a green building should provide. By applying the affordance theory, we examined whether a LEED-certified university campus building effectively communicates green design and sustainability to its users and if so, then how? We employed a questionnaire survey targeting campus users of a LEED-certified building by examining their awareness of the building’s LEED status and perception of green design elements at multiple spatial scales, as well as their general knowledge on green building topics. We collected 177 questionnaires, of which 153 were qualified for statistical analysis. The results suggested that the building itself can afford to promote awareness among users, but cannot afford to educate users on general green building knowledge. We found that building users perceived green design at different spatial scales, preferring either product or space-related design. Our results indicate that future design should continue promoting the use of educational signage, which was found to be the most effective communicator of sustainability. The communication of green design to users with different spatial preferences remains a future research focus. Further studies on the innovative use of green building design as effective communicators are needed to promote sustainability education among the building users.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-100
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Green Building
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jun 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study is supported by the Sustainable Energy Program of the National Science Foundation (CHE1230246). We would like to give special thanks to Carla Iansiti, Jeffery Scheffler, Donald Donagrandi, Michael Hicks and all other staff at Brody for their professional and efficient help to facilitate the surveys. We thank Gabriela Shirkey and Ranjeet John at the Landscape Ecology & Ecosystem Science (LEES) lab for administrating the surveys with the authors. We also thank Gabriela Shirkey for her careful editing of the manuscript. The anonymous reviews helped to improve the quality of this paper.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, College Publishing. All rights reserved.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Architecture
  • Building and Construction
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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