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Post-occupancy evaluation

Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE) has its origins in the United States and has been used in one form or another since the 1960s. Preiser and colleagues define POE as

"the process of evaluating buildings in a systematic and rigorous manner after they have been built and occupied for some time"

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.

A POE usually includes a mix of 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.

The term "post occupancy" can be confusing and simply refers to an occupied building rather than a vacant one. As a consequence a POE may be carried out pre- and post-project. 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:

  • measure project success
  • feedback and feed-forward
  • set a baseline for measurement
  • establish data
  • inform the design process
  • input to the change management programme
  • Highlight where future investments may be best placed


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