Assessing occupant comfort in an iconic sustainable education building

Rick Best, Brian Purdey


Abstract

The building that houses the Mirvac School of Sustainable Development at Bond University is the first educational building to achieve a six Green Star rating from the Green Building Council of Australia. It has won numerous awards since opening in August 2008 including being judged the RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) Sustainable Building of 2009. After more than two years in use a post-occupancy evaluation study was carried out to assess the performance of the building from the viewpoint of the users; both resident staff and transient students.

Results for factors such as lighting, thermal comfort, noise and air quality. were compared to benchmarks established by the Usable Buildings Trust. The evaluation also assessed the occupants’ perceptions of the building’s impact on their own productivity.

Users generally find the building provides a comfortable work environment although a number of areas of performance were noted as posing some concerns. These included intrusive noise in some parts of the building and some issues with glare in daylit teaching spaces. Such concerns were found to be in accord with the results of previous studies and they highlight some recurrent problems in “green” buildings designed to maximise the use of natural ventilation and natural light. These design challenges and how occupant satisfaction is to be measured and benchmarked are also discussed in the context of this comparative building study.

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