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Comfort signatures: How long-term studies of occupant satisfaction in office buildings reveal on-going performance

Bunn, R; Marjanovic-Halburd, L; (2017) Comfort signatures: How long-term studies of occupant satisfaction in office buildings reveal on-going performance. Building Services Engineering Research and Technology , 38 (6) pp. 663-690. 10.1177/0143624417707668. Green open access

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Abstract

Occupant surveys reveal how people in buildings perceive their internal environments. The Soft Landings extended handover process, which requires project teams to focus more on operational outcomes, has led to the use of occupant surveys during a three year Soft Landings aftercare period to provide a means of checking whether the desired outcomes have been met. However, little is known of the longitudinal perceptions of occupant satisfaction in buildings, and the relationships between those perceptions and the many environmental, seasonal and functional comfort variables that act upon occupant satisfaction. This paper reports the results of time-series surveys on two office buildings. Occupant satisfaction scores have been compared with the technical, organisational and functional contexts in the work environments, such as density, workgroup sizes, and cellular and open-plan layouts, to determine whether changes in these parameters have significantly altered levels of perceived occupant comfort and productivity. The research found stability in some contexts but statistical declines in others. Conclusions are made regarding the key operational factors that may contribute to changes in occupant satisfaction over time. Factors that might constitute limits to office carrying capacity are discussed. Practical application: The growing use of the Soft Landings approach to building procurement and handover, with greater emphasis on designing for improved operational outcomes, is creating a demand to understand more about occupant needs and expectations. The central government equivalent – Government Soft Landings – is similarly placing a requirement on public sector construction projects to deliver buildings with improved environmental and functional outcomes. Delivering these expectations requires construction professionals to develop skills in building performance evaluation, particularly in understanding the primary drivers that lead to high occupant perceptions of comfort, health, productivity and wellbeing. This research provides real-world evidence to clients and their design advisors on the key factors for ensuring long-term occupant satisfaction, while for building management professionals the research identifies some organisational risk factors that may lead to a fall in satisfaction during long-term operation.

Type: Article
Title: Comfort signatures: How long-term studies of occupant satisfaction in office buildings reveal on-going performance
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/0143624417707668
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1177/0143624417707668
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Soft Landings, occupant surveys, wellbeing, facilities, comfort
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Bartlett School Env, Energy and Resources
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1561597
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