"the process of evaluating buildings in a systematic and rigorous manner after they have been built and occupied for some time"
The unique aspect of Post Occupancy Evaluation is that it generates recommendations based on all stakeholders' experiences of subject buildings' affects on productivity and wellbeing.
Purposes of POE
Post Occupancy Evaluations is used to improve the ways that buildings are used to support productivity and wellbeing.
Specifically it is used to:
- Account for building quality
- Inform planning and briefing (programming) for new buildings and alterations
- Troubleshoot building/use problems
The British Council for Offices (BCO) summarises that a POE provides feedback of how successful the workplace is in supporting the occupying organization and the requirements of individual end-users. The BCO also suggests that POE can be used to assess if a project brief has been met. Furthermore, the BCO recommends that POE is used as part of the Evidence-based design process, where the project usually refers to a building design fit-out or refurbishment, or to inform the project brief where the project is the introduction of a new initiative, system or process. POE usually involves feedback from the building occupants, through questionnaires, interviews and workshops, but may also involve more objective measures such as environmental monitoring, space measurement and cost analysis.
Building interest groups
Post Occupancy Evaluations involve all stakeholder groups with interests in the subject buildings. Stakeholders are typically:
- Employees - working in the buildings
- Clients, customers, students, prisoners, guests and patients - receiving services in the buildings
- Project sponsors, architects, engineers, builders - who produced the building
- Maintenance managers, tradespeople and cleaners - who maintain the building
- Future generations (represented by architects) - who will live in the environmental polluted by the buildings' construction and operation
Components of POE
The POE process provides value-neutral prompts to stimulate stakeholders to make testable observations about their experiences of buildings' effect on productivity and wellbeing. These observations are clarified and documented by the evaluator. Stakeholders' testable observations will be specific to building design,use and operating conditions and these may involve "negotiation" of all three dimensions of building evaluation to realise the optimum ways of achieving productivity and wellbeing.
Recommendations are based on complete set of stakeholders' observations. Most recommendations are to inform planning and design of future new buildings the operational practices. They also generate some recommendations for modifications to the subject buildings and for changes in the ways that they are used. POE evaluators may recommend monitoring, research, investigation or project management studies.
Some POE include other building studies. POE incorporate may include quantitative and qualitative techniques. Most POEs will involve seeking feedback from the occupants of the place being evaluated; this may be achieved through various survey methodology including questionnaire, interview or focus group. The occupant feedback may be supplemented by environmental monitoring, such as temperature, noise levels, lighting levels and indoor air quality. More recently, POEs tend to include sustainable measures such as energy consumption, waste levels, and water usage. Other commonly used quantitative measures include space metrics, for example occupational density, space utilization and tenant efficiency ratio. Cost, either expressed as the cost of the project per square metre or the total cost of occupancy, is considered a key metric in building evaluation and may be compared with the occupant feedback to provide a better understanding of value.
POE at any stage after building occupancy
The term "post occupancy" can be confusing and simply refers to an occupied building rather than a vacant one. Furthermore, POEs may be conducted at regular intervals to monitor how the building facilities and its operation are currently supporting the occupants. A pre-project POE may be used to:
- Document ways in which stakeholders experience buildings
- To inform the briefing and design process for proposed buildings and building alterations
- To negotiate and resolve new building features and qualities, which compromise productivity and well being
- Measure a dimension of project success
- feedback and feed-forward
- Set a baseline for measurement
- Establish benchmark data
- Input to the change management programme and to align change management and design
- Highlight where future investments may be best placed, and best avoided
A POE is often carried out six to twelve months after construction work is complete and buildings are occupied. Post Occupancy Evaluations are also undertaken at any time buildings' "lives"; particularly to understand stakeholders' experience of them, for briefing alterations and changes.
Any built environment accommodating people
POE's have been conducted of facilities for schools, universities, technical institutes, kindergartens, museums, offices, courts, corrections, military, hospitals, landscape/civil works, learning environments, libraries, jails, police stations, housing, health centres and zoos. It would be equally possible to apply POE techniques to ships and "virtual" environments. POE has been applied to selected parts of buildings, aspects of buildings and groups of buildings on the same campus and several sites.
Other building studies
POE can be informed by reference to other building studies and POEs sometimes recommend other studies such as:
- Energy audit
- Survey (human research)
- Post Implementation Review
- Proprietary building rating schemes
- Noise measurements
- Indoor Air Quality measurements
- Benefits realisation management
- Building (maintenance) inspection
- Life-cycle assessment
- Environmental rating schemes (BREEAM, Green Star, LEED)
POE has been developed and discussed within these organisations:
- Preiser W F E, Rabinowitz H Z and White E T (1988) Post Occupancy Evaluation. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.
- Oseland N A (2007) British Council for Offices Guide to Post-Occupancy Evaluation. London: BCO.
- Barlex M J (2006) Guide to Post Occupancy Evaluation. London: HEFCE/AUDE.
- Lackney J A and Zajfen P (2005) Post-occupancy evaluation of public libraries: Lessons learned from three case studies. Library Administration and Management, 19(1)
- Enright S (2002) Post-occupancy evaluation of UK library building projects. Liber Quarterly, 12, pp 26-45.
- Wener R E (1994) Post Occupancy Evaluation Procedure: Instruments & Instructions for Use. Orange County Corrections Division and National Institute of Correction Jail Centre.
- Home Office (2009) Design Policy, Post Occupancy Evaluation: North Kent Police. London: Home Office.
- Stevenson, F and Leaman A 2010) Housing occupancy feedback: Linking performance with behaviour. Building Research and Information, 38 (5).
- Carthey J (2006) Post occupancy evaluation: Development of a standardised methodology for Australian health projects. The International Journal of Construction Management, pp 57-75.
- Wilson M et al (2003) Post-occupancy evaluation of zoo Atlanta's Giant Panda Conservation Center. Zoo Biology, 22 (4) pp 365-363.