As the screws tighten on building energy efficiency, it's becoming evident that there is a serious mismatch between designed efficiency and actual efficiency. Despite many contemporary buildings being regarded as highly efficient on paper, this is seldom validated. In fact, there is much evidence to suggest that it is fairly commonplace to find buildings using up to three times as much energy as was envisaged at the design stage. It seems this disparity is not confined to energy consumption with many contemporary buildings also failing to provide occupant satisfaction.
Post Occupancy Evaluations (POEs), if carried out well, have the real potential to help bridge these gaps in performance. This guide aims to demystify what is in reality a very simple process and one that represents a very cost effective method of closing the current 'performance gap'.
What is a POE?
A POE is a process of evaluating buildings through monitoring and feedback, normally after the first year of use. It is essentially a way of evaluating how the building is working in use. There are other terms used for POE such as:
• 'Building Performance Appraisal'
• 'Building Performance Evaluation'
Although a POE usually reviews the building as a product and its performance in use, it can also review the whole project performance by providing feedback in the following four areas:
• Whether the project fulfills its objectives and brief.
• Review of the design and building process.
• The building as a product, its fitness for purpose and how people react to it.
• The building's performance in use (including energy use).
The Performance Gap and the need for POEs
Modern buildings sometimes consume over 40% more energy than predicted with some of the worst cases increasing their energy consumption by more than 70%.1
Many studies have found contemporary buildings fail to provide occupant satisfaction.2
Energy efficiency and occupant satisfaction are not mutually exclusive, users who are happy with their environment are less likely to install 'quick fix' solutions which are often energy intensive (such as retrofitting an air-conditioning unit). Further, buildings which have more comprehensible and responsive controls are more likely to be energy efficient simply because they are more manageable.
'An intelligent building is one that doesn't make its occupants feel stupid'
1 Wingfield (2008) completed a large scale assessment of the energy performance of new housing in the UK and found that the whole house heat loss coefficients exceeded predicted values by more than 75%. A number of studies support the fact that occupants are also responsible for a large variation in energy use (Cole et al., 2008; Gill et al., 2010).
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