POE - Different feedback techniques

There are many different established methodologies or feedback techniques which can be used for POE, so many that it can be extremely confusing when trying to select the appropriate method.

The below are a few examples of common feedback techniques. This is not an exhaustive list. For more information refer to the Usable Buildings Trust which has a very comprehensive comparison of these and other feedback techniques


AMA Workware Toolkit

A package of qualitative and quantitative techniques assisting decisions on the brief for new space in offices, educational facilities and other buildings that require workspace.


BUS Occupant Survey

A self-completion occupant questionnaire which has become a de facto standard for occupant surveys


CIBSE TM22 energy survey

A core technique for undertaking and reporting energy surveys. CIBSE TM46 can appear quite bewildering and an experienced services engineer would prove invaluable or indeed essential to ensure meaningful and accurate results


Design Quality Method (DQM)

A tried and tested, independent POE method and design review tool suitable for all building types which uses expert opinion, professional judgement, user opinion, and scientific measurement to assess six key areas of: architecture; environmental engineering; user comfort; whole life costing; detailed design; and user satisfaction. A seventh matrix is often added to cover specific aspects.


Housing Evaluation and Performance Studies (HEAPS)

A combination of hard and soft techniques which has been used to evaluate one demonstration home against the Code for Sustainable Homes standards and is being developed further with major housing developers. Areas monitored are heat loss, thermal comfort, indoor air quality, energy and water consumption, CO2 emissions, user interfaces and the effectiveness of the design from a user's perspective. Useful for pre-testing prototype housing prior to mass production to improve design. Developed by the Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development and Architecture (OISDA) who were commissioned by the Stewart Milne Group.


Office Productivity Network (OPN) Survey

An online questionnaire that asks building occupants to rate aspects of their work setting such as environmental conditions and office facilities. Similar in principle to the BUS occupant survey method but has more emphasis on self-assessed productivity of occupants. The survey is usually accompanied by a walkthrough and follow-up workshops, but these are not standardised.


Overall Liking Score (OSL)

An occupant survey method that measures how people feel about their work environment. Suited to offices, educational facilities and healthcare institutions it identifies simple low cost improvement solutions and can inform a long term plan of action which addresses the survey findings. Initiated by Professor Dr Levermore at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) and developed further by ABS consulting.


PROBE - Post-occupancy Review Of Buildings and their Engineering

The 'Probe' Post Occupancy Reviews were a series of POEs carried out from 1995 to 2002 where the results were published in the Building Services Journal and were famous for raising awareness of POE and the performance of new buildings in the UK. The techniques are suitable for any sector but principally public, commercial and educational although the Probe approach has been adopted for studies of low energy housing. Arup now runs an Appraise service which uses the same components of Probe to assess building performance. Probe was developed by a consortium including Building Use Studies Ltd, Halcrow Gilbert Associates, Energy for Sustainable Development Ltd, Target Energy Services Ltd and William Bordass Associates, in association with publisher Building Services Journal, and co-sponsored by the UK government under the Partners in Innovation (PII) scheme. The techniques used are simple, well-established, cost-effective and incorporate benchmarks, it is one of the few 'POE packages' to date which deals simultaneously with soft (people-related) and hard (technical and environmental performance) issues:


• A preliminary questionnaire for the building/facilities manager.
• The Building Use Studies occupant survey.
• A Building Walkthrough.
• Focus Group Meeting(s) as required.
• The CIBSE TM22 Energy assessment and reporting method.
• Sometimes, a building envelope pressure test to CIBSE TM23 by BRE or BSRIA.


School Works

A post-occupancy evaluation method designed specifically to establish user satisfaction and the effectiveness of the environment. Using a number of methods including questionnaires and facilitated workshops the approach fits with the Soft Landings Framework for Schools. It establishes user satisfaction, attitudes towards the environment and the extent to which it meets users' needs and the educational vision of the school. Originally developed by School Works (now BCSE) with partners and DfES. It is currently being further developed with Partnerships for Schools and is being brought in line with the requirements of the Soft Landings Framework.


Soft Landings

Soft landings is a framework for POE Initially developed by Mark Way and later developed by BSRIA in association with the Usable Buildings Trust. Soft Landings aims to improve the POE process by building POEs into the standard professional scopes of service from the initial briefing stages to encourage systematic uptake of POE and ensure lessons learnt become embedded into the design and decision-making processes. It can be used in any sector and can be applied at any time, doing as much or as little as you like but is more beneficial to a project if adopted early.

•  The client needs to be behind soft landings from the start of the venture for it to succeed
•  Helps to bind the team together.
•  Provides better clarity in briefing about client needs and likely outcomes.
•  More rigorous sign-offs of briefs, designs, work on site and commissioning trials.
•  Closer working between design and building team and occupiers and managers.
•  Includes post-occupancy review techniques, particularly for occupant satisfaction and energy performance.
•  Potential for warranted performance on mission-critical items.
•  Pre-handover, involving designers, builders, operators and commissioning specialists to work together and prepare for handover before it happens.
•  Initial aftercare, where the design team is in residence to help occupants settle in and deal with teething problems.
•  Aftercare in 1-3 years after handover, that periodically reviews and monitors building performance.


There are five stages that are designed to run alongside most industry standard procurement routes where a Soft Landings Champion is essential and will stay with the project throughout. Once a project is completed, ideally the information gleaned from all parties is published and fed forwards to inform future projects. Initial stages of the framework are affordable within normal budgets (in essence up to practical completion), running alongside the standard professional scopes of service. It is the aftercare stages of the framework (approximately 3 years) that need extra funding, which can prove difficult to find. Extra activity beyond handover will be mainly maintaining communications with the users and attending to any teething problems encountered in the first three months of occupancy.


Next page: POE - Sustainability and value for money


© 2014 Anna Pamphilon of Pamphilon Architects




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