Exploring the use of new school buildings through post-occupancy evaluation and participatory action research
This paper presents the results of the development and testing of an integrated post-occupancy evaluation (POE) approach for teachers, staff, pupils and community members using newly constructed school buildings. It focusses on three cases of UK secondary schools, demonstrating how users can be inspired to engage with the problems of school design and energy use awareness. The cases provided new insights into the engagement of school teachers, staff and young people regarding issues of sustainability, management, functional performance and comfort. The integrative approach adopted in these cases provided a more holistic understanding of these buildings’ performance than could have been achieved by either observational or more traditional questionnaire-based methods. Moreover, the whole-school approach, involving children in POE, provided researchers with highly contextualised information about how a school is used, how to improve the quality of school experiences (both socially and educationally) and how the school community is contributing to the building's energy performance. These POE methods also provided unique opportunities for children to examine the social and cultural factors impeding the adoption of energy-conscious and sustainable behaviours.