Economic decision modeling for the consideration of subjective, non-monetary attributes in HVAC system selection

M. D. Larrañaga, M. G. Beruvides, H. W. Holder, D. C. Straus

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Decisions considering the preservation of a healthy indoor environment can be complex and are often based solely on monetary criteria (objective attributes). Decisions that may impact occupant health must be carefully and systematically evaluated to ensure that the decision-maker is informed of the risks associated with the decision outcome. The decision outcome may present economic, legal, ethical, and technical challenges that may be difficult to evaluate both objectively and systematically. Subjective or intangible attributes are often omitted or not evaluated thoroughly; thus, the full complexity of the decision is not realized. The inherent subjectivity in the field of indoor air quality makes the application of the Brown-Gibson economic decision model (BGM) an attractive tool for the objective evaluation of alternatives. The BGM was applied to a selection process for a 4250 square foot high school lecture hall heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) system renovation in a hot and humid climate. School staff indicated that the attributes of the renovated system of most importance to them were: initial cost; useful life; warranty, maintenance, and perceived quality; expected operating costs and effort; and long-term sustainability of the indoor environment (lack of risk). The sole objective attribute utilized in the model was initial cost. Useful life, warranty/maintenance costs, and operating costs/effort were considered subjective attributes due to uncontrollable factors such as sensitivity to market fluctuations and other indirect factors such as contract terms that could not be associated with a dollar amount but could be subjectively classified. School administrators were presented with 6 alternative HVAC system solutions and the objective and subjective attributes of each alternative were ranked and scored. The model showed that the alternative with the lowest initial cost was not the most desirable choice. School administrators were able to make an informed decision for the preservation of the indoor environment and the sustainability of the school building.

Original languageEnglish
JournalIAQ Conference
StatePublished - 2008
EventHealthy and Sustainable Buildings Conference, IAQ 2007 - Baltimore, MD, United States
Duration: Oct 15 2007Oct 17 2007


Dive into the research topics of 'Economic decision modeling for the consideration of subjective, non-monetary attributes in HVAC system selection'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this