As earlier stated, in agreement with standard project planning and the DRM principles, we carried put an evaluation to review and if needed, improve the developed conceptual framework. To achieve this preliminary evaluation; two steps were taken; one to check its effectiveness towards actually facilitating the adoption of BIPV, the other to check its agreement with recommendations from literature. The first step was an online pilot survey redefined as a prospective user experience (UX) survey; the second, the use of a “Case Study Deductions Checklist” developed from the literature section. Both strategies were conceived and carried out as a part of this research, and the results are summarized below.
3.3.1. Pilot Survey: User Experience (UX) Format
User Experience (UX) is defined as “a person’s perceptions and responses that result from the use or anticipated use of a product, system or service” [87
]. The authors of [88
] also describe UX as “a consequence of a user’s internal state (e.g., predispositions and expectations), the characteristics of the designed system (e.g., complexity, usability) and the context within which the interaction occurs”. UX research thus allows investigators to carry out qualitative research while studying user behavior–actual or anticipated. Following our earlier description, one frame of reference (i.e., driving concept) used in this investigation to develop the approach is the “pillars of sustainability”, i.e., 3P. This study anticipated a UX survey as a part of its evaluation of the conceptual framework while asserting a scholastic argument. This argument, advanced in this study is that persons who have an understanding of these 3P benefits/dimensions of BIPV will likely be positively disposed towards its adoption. This assumption agrees with several studies [25
] and is also based on the innovations theories earlier discussed. Following this, we considered it logical to facilitate a means of engaging public feedback to evaluate the developed approach. To achieve this, a pilot UX-type survey was run on the internet for one week (10–17 June 2018). It was randomly deployed via social media—specifically Facebook and WhatsApp, with the questions prepared using Google Forms. Sixty-nine (69) responses were received, none were invalid, and all were used in the analysis. The objective of the survey was to confirm if the developed approach was indeed able to encourage BIPV adoption. It was thus designed to find out public opinion about electricity for home/office/school using solar panels as a part of the building. In statistical considerations, we also sought to investigate if there is a significant relationship between knowledge of BIPV benefits and the decision to adopt BIPV to justify the theoretical position of this investigation.
For clarity, the questions were designed to ensure proper understanding by both professionals and non-professionals. As such, technical details were redefined in simple everyday terms as explained below. The 3P concepts towards BIPV benefits i.e., environmental, economic and social were simplified; “environmental benefits” was simply framed as “helping the environment”, “economic benefits” as “saving money”, and “social benefits” as “higher social status and recognition”. However, to ensure a holistic representation of these benefits, and guarantee that related aspects were not omitted, respondents were allowed to state any benefit they also considered important to adopting BIPV. In general, the underlying assumption of the simulated UX survey is that if a respondent considered that a benefit is important, then it has a potential impact on their decision to adopt BIPV. The list that follows is the results of the survey for each of the three questions, followed by a brief analysis of the results.
1. Question 1: Do you know the benefits of using solar energy for electricity?
The purpose of this question was to introduce and affirm our subject to the respondent, as well as establish a basis for further inquiry. It was framed to determine if the respondent was aware of the concept and availability of solar energy as a renewable energy system. A “yes” or “no” answer was provided to the respondents. The survey did not consider an “indifferent” or “no answer” option regarding this question as knowledge, not opinion was required at this point. From the results, over 95% (66 respondents) chose the option showing they had an understanding of the benefits of solar energy as a source of power. Only about 4% selected the option stating they did not know the merits of solar energy. This suggests a high level of awareness of the sustainable characteristic of solar energy amongst the respondents. While the 95% represents the group of persons who are considered “likely to adopt BIPV” based on the knowledge about its benefits, 4% are “unlikely to adopt”. This characteristic of these groups makes for significant importance to this study and is later discussed further.
2. Question 2: Which of these benefits is most important to you when deciding to use solar energy for electricity?
Respondents were asked to present their perceived importance of solar energy benefits. A multiple-choice format presented possible benefits relating to the 3P concept used to develop the approach. These were, helping the environment, better building design, saving money, higher social status and recognition. Respondents were permitted to select more than one option or add to the list.
above shows that over 81% (54 respondents) felt that solar energy was beneficial for two main reasons; firstly, by using it, they are helping the environment and secondly saving money. 24% (16 respondents) noted that better building design was a desirable benefit. Only about 5% felt all benefits were significant, and only about 2% (1 respondent) felt a higher social status and recognition was an important benefit. Six respondents (9%) mentioned other specific reasons they would consider, but on closer examination, they mainly relate to design, environmental, and social issues already listed.
3. Question 3: Will you like to know these benefits?
This question was specifically reserved for respondents who answered: “NO” to question 1 (“do you know the benefits of using solar energy for electricity”?). This question was to identify if they desired to increase their knowledge of the merits of solar energy. All the three respondents (100%) who answered “NO” in question 1 answered in the affirmative to this question (i.e., they will like to know these benefits).
Further statistical analysis of the pilot—shown in Table 1
below—revealed the mean values of Questions 1 to 3. The table shows the standard deviation values, sample variances, level of confidence for the variables. A significance was found between the respondents that did not know the benefits of using solar energy for electricity and would like to know the benefits (p
< 0.05). Regarding Question 3, the statistical analysis considered the responses; the results showed the average respondents considered helping the environment and saving money as the most crucial benefits when deciding the to use the solar energy for electricity. A relationship was therefore found between the respondents that understand the benefits of using solar energy for electricity and the respondents that selected helping the environment and saving money (p
< 0.05). The import of this relationship shows that understanding environmental and economic benefits was found to be significantly important to people who are likely adopters of BIPV, making these benefits crucial drivers of adoption.
The results of the pilot survey show that most of the respondents know the benefits of using solar energy for electricity as part of the building. Also, environmental and economic benefits are considered most significant and social benefits less important by respondents interested in adopting BIPV. For the few who do not know the benefits of using solar for electricity, they were all interested in learning. Based on these findings, we tentatively conclude that since the approach provides copious information about environmental and economic benefits, it will potentially encourage adoption—at least for the respondents of the survey.