Current and Past Research

Current Research

The lab has partnered with a number of local and international organizations to complete projects that optimize the inclusion of building occupants’, and community members’, attitudes and behaviors in the design cycle.

The Canadian Mountain Network

In collaboration with geography and sociology professors at VIU, as well as the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region Research Institute (MABRRI), Dr. McCunn and two student lab RAs are responsible for a portion of a project funded by through the Canadian Mountain Network. In 2021, our work also received funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) John R. Evans Leaders Fund (in conjunction with the CB Knowledge Development Fund for Minor Research Infrastructure Projects.

Between 2019 and 2022, we are working to examine human relationships with nature in some of BC's mountainous areas, as well as developing focused methods and scales to measure sense of place in these regions.

BC Corrections and the Nanaimo Correctional Centre

With approval from BC Corrections, the lab has begun collecting data for a project that asks employees working at the existing Nanaimo Correctional Centre about a number of psychosocial constructs, as well as their appraisals of the facility's design so that, after a new facility has been constructed and used for a period of time, we can statistically compare attitudinal and behavioural changes (as well as evaluate successes and limitations of the design). We received an Engage grant from VIU for this project in 2019.

Island Health

In 2018, our team received two Collaborative Research grants from VIHA's Research and Capacity Building Department to complete projects with Island Health staff working in the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital and in the Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria, BC. Using different methods and variables, both projects investigated the extent to which recent sustainable design alterations to parts of each hospital (e.g., biophilic mural instalments; circadian lighting programmes) affect staff experiences at work.

The results of these projects have been recently published:

McCunn, L. J., & Wright, J. (2019). Hospital employees’ perceptions of circadian lighting: A pharmacy department case study. Journal of Facilities Management. 

McCunn, L. J., & Frey, C. (2020). Impacts of large-scale interior murals on hospital employees: A pharmacy department case study. Journal of Facilities Management, 18, 53-70. 

The work has also been presented at the Canadian Psychological Association's annual Convention in 2019. 

McCunn, L. J., & Wright, J. (May, 2019). Impacts of Circadian Lighting and Interior Murals on Hospital Employees: A Pharmacy Department Case Study. To be presented at the annual convention of the Canadian Psychological Association, Halifax, NS.

The lab is also working with Island Health to measure employees baseline satisfaction with a number of hospital design attributes in preparation for the construction of the new Cowichan District Hospital in Duncan, BC. This study examines employees' perceptions of sustainable and culturally-response design via pre-design and post-occupancy evaluations. The lab received funding from VIU in the form of an Explore grant and an Innovate grant in 2019. Read VIU's press release about this research here

School District 61

The lab has won a Research, Scholarly activity, and Curriculum Development grant from VIU to complete a follow-up study concerning teachers’ reactions to the learning commons model in BC secondary schools. Dr. McCunn published results from three initial studies with School District 63 in 2013 and is now continuing this line of inquiry by making design recommendations to transition traditional secondary school libraries to learning commons and measuring how teachers perceive their levels of professional collaboration, productivity, and engagement at work.

McCunn, L. J., & Gifford, R. (2015). Teachers’ reactions to learning commons in secondary schools. Journal of Library Administration, 55, 435-458.

McCunn, L. J. (2017). Surveying teachers’ responses to library design: Lessons from the learning commons model. In SAGE Research Methods Cases: Education.

University of Washington

The lab is working with faculty members and post-doctoral fellows in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Washington (UW) in Seattle on a series of studies concerning the impacts of LED lighting programs on office employee satisfaction, perceived productivity, and controllability in the UW Tower on campus in Seattle, WA. Some of these projects have been funded by UW’s Green Seed Fund grant program and have been published in peer reviewed journals:

Kim, A., McCunn, L. J., & Lew, J. (2017). Successful facility change management practices for retrofit projects: A case study in lighting. Journal of Management in Engineering, 33, 1-8.

McCunn, L. J., Kim, A., & Lew, J. (2017). Office Workers’ Reactions to a Lighting Retrofit: Exploring Perceptions of Productivity, Controllability, and Affective Organizational Commitment. Journal of Energy Research and Social Science, 37, 154-164.

Kim, A., Wang, S., & McCunn, L. J. (2019). Building value proposition for human-centred lighting systems in the workplace: Combining energy and occupant perspectivesJournal of Building Engineering, 24, 100752. 

Kim, A., Wang, S., & McCunn, L. J., Prozuments, A., Swanson, T., & Lokan, K. (2019). Commissioning the acoustical performance of an open office space following the latest healthy building standard: A case study. Acoustics, 1,473-492. DOI:

Kim, A., Wang, S., McCunn, L. J., & Sadatsafavi, H. (In press). Impact of office modernization on environmental satisfaction: A naturalistic field study. Frontiers in the Built Environment: Sustainable Design and Construction.

Our work has also been presented at the following conferences:

McCunn, L. J., Kim, A., & Lew, J. (July, 2018). Office building occupants' responses to an advanced human-centered, technology-driven lighting system.Poster presented at the National Institutes of Health in buildings (HiBR) roundtable conference, Bethesda, MD (as HiBR Scholars). 

Kim, A., McCunn, L. J., Wang, S., & Prozuments, A. (January, 2019). Psychoacoustical Research Pertaining to the Healthy Workspaces. Presenting at the InternationalWorkshop on Putting Sustainability into Convergence: Connecting Data, People, and Systems, Singapore.

The lab and the team at UW have collaborated on a successful grant application to the National Science Foundation for a RAPID Grant (Award ID: 1852995) to measure building occupants' perceptions of indoor and outdoor air quality during seasons of severe small particulate accumulation from wildfires. This research is currently underway.  

Interdisciplinary Team-based Research with VIU Nursing, UBC Psychology, and Island Health

Dr. McCunn is working primarily with Dr. Shannon Dames (VIU Nursing) as a co-investigator on a project titled: "A COVID-19 Patient Oriented Response and Recovery Effort: Working Across Sectors to Aid Healthcare Providers Suffering from Burnout, PTSD, or Treatment Resistant Depression (TRD)." This lab's role in this work is to use the applied and interdisciplinary body of environmental psychology literature in the development of a psychedelic-assisted therapy program and examine some of the interactions between social and psychological factors of working in high-stress jobs on the front lines of the public health sector. A recent press release is posted here. Our project has been funded by  CIHR's Knowledge Synthesis Grant in Knowledge Synthesis for COVID-19 in Mental Health and Substance Use, VIU's Research and Creative Activity COVID 19 Grant, and by the VIU Regional Initiatives Fund. 

Research Partnership with UWT Criminal Justice Professor and the Washington Corrections Centre for Women 

The lab has been working toward surveying and interviewing staff of the Washington Corrections Centre (WCCW) for Women about corrections of fatigue, work adversity, and their perceptions of a new landscaping project on the WCCW campus since 2017. Together with Dr. Barb Toews, Associate Professor of criminal justice at the University of Washington Tacoma (UWT), we were awarded UW's Royalty Research Fund in 2018. Although COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the project,  our protocol has moved online and the research will proceed until the end of 2021.

Past Research

Designing Justice + Designing Spaces, the James Irvine Foundation, the University of Washington Tacoma and Rutgers University

With generous support from the James Irvine Foundation, the lab teamed up with criminal justice faculty at the University of Washington Tacoma, business faculty at Rutgers University, and a not-for-profit architecture and design organization called Designing Justice + Designing Spaces to evaluate a “pop-up resource village” for its effectiveness in affecting place-making and community engagement in a diverse San Francisco neighbourhood. Interim and final reports have been provided to the funder and results of our portion of the project has been published in the International Journal of Community Well-being. Although we had been accepted to present our findings at the Canadian Psychological Association's annual convention in 2020, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the convention was cancelled. However, our work has been published in CPA's abstract book and may be chosen for CPA's scientific program in 2021.

McCunn, L. J., Vickerie, L., Gagnon T. (2020). Evaluating a Pop-up Resource Village in West Oakland: Making Connections with Sense of Place and Perceptions of Safety. International Journal of Community Well-being, 1-26. DOI:

McCunn, L. J. & Gagnon, T. (May, 2020). Evaluating a Pop-up Resource Village: Making Connections with Sense of Place and Perceptions of Safety. Scheduled for presentation at the annual convention of the Canadian Psychological Association, Montreal, QC. **Cancelled because of COVID-19.