Never before has Past Occupancy Evaluation been more relevant

Historically strong in delivery, we have more recently been experiencing the merging processes of design, delivery, handover and aftercare. The lessons learnt from our delivery are being fed back into the design stage through a process of Post Occupancy Evaluation, creating a circular process and closing the loop, allowing what has been built to inform the next design iteration.

Changes around us are driven by a rapidly growing awareness and an acknowledgement that all we do affects the environment and our own personal health, wellbeing and happiness, which directly relates to productivity. This in turn has fuelled investors’ aim to future proof their funds and raise the performance targets of our buildings.

P.O.E comes in different stages. The RIBA has recognised a three-tiered approach over a three-year period, including a Light Touch Review, to gain feedback on performance and occupant satisfaction and to identify opportunities for fine-tuning. This is followed by a Diagnostic Assessment, to verify performance and review any issues discovered at the end of Year one with Detailed (Forensic) Investigations identifying any significant and persistent performance issues at the end of year three.

Testing design solutions and sharing the lessons learnt us becoming a much more common growing trend in the design world, encouraged through initiatives such asLETI and the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge, proving that innovation comes through collaboration.

Various intelligent low carbon assessment software platforms are designed to track embodied carbon during the design stages. It is now well understood that do this in the early stages of the design process gains significantly more value than when left to RIBA stage 4 or beyond. This requires early collaboration between the client and the various designers, assisted by the information that is tested and assessed through the Post Occupancy Evaluation process.

In the spirit of the Golden Thread, it is inevitable that the value of Post Occupancy Evaluation is considered in the procurement route, which requires close collaboration and transparency between the design and delivery partners.

What is measured as ‘success’ is being challenged across the industry. The RIBA requires in-use performance data to be assessed, using recognised Post Occupancy Evaluation tools and recognises that we cannot continue to consider predicted outcomes carrying the label of success if we are serious in delivering a step in change of sustainability.