Post Occupancy Evaluation is used to:
- Fine tuning new buildings: By understanding how buildings support and/or frustrate activities, they can be fine-tuned and management practices adjusted. Very often, slight adjustments to buildings and the ways they are used offer significant benefits to users.
- Improving design for future buildings: By designing new facilities with an understanding of how similar buildings perform in-use, mistakes can be avoided and successful design features capitalised upon.
- Accountability: Post Occupancy Evaluation is a valuable tool for assessing building quality – essential when organisations are required to demonstrate that building programmes are being responsibly managed.
- Cost savings: Post Occupancy Evaluation identifies ways people can use buildings and equipment more efficiently and more cost-effectively. Dysfunctional or seldom-used building features can be eliminated or replaced.
- Renovating existing buildings: Post Occupancy Evaluation is an important tool in planning the refurbishment of existing buildings. It helps clarify perceived strengths and weaknesses to focus resources where they are needed. It is also used to identify where building design adjustments are needed to support changing practices, markets, legislation and social trends.
- Staff and/or customer relations: Post Occupancy Evaluation involves building users in defining how buildings work for them. This participation has been shown to engender greater commitment to solutions, and more willingness to accept shortcomings.
A typical Post Occupancy Evaluation has three phases:
- Preparation (2-3 weeks): Identification of user groups, timetabling, selection of participants, letters of invitation.
- Interviews (1 week): Small groups of like users are interviewed while walking through the building, which provides the prompt for their comments and observations. A review session is held to verify comments, establish priorities and review the process. Observation studies and written questionnaires may also be used.
- Analysis & Reporting (3-6 weeks): Documentation of participant findings, generation of recommendations, compilation of a report and presentation.