Occupant surveys are an invaluable source of information regarding occupant satisfaction and workplace effectiveness.
Funding Sources: CBE Industry Consortium Research Grants Survey Users
The main objective of this project is to provide a web-based survey tool that allows building stakeholders to assess the performance and success of the design of their space. This tool facilitates the gathering of accurate and reliable feedback from the building occupants (i.e., the people who actually exist and interact with the space’s environment). Ultimately, this feedback creates an open-dialogue between the building’s occupants, managers, owners, etc.
Furthermore, in addition to the surveying tool, this project aims to provide users with an interactive reporting tool in order for decision makers to easily evaluate and identify problem areas. As a result, users will be able to design solutions to improve the occupant experience. Beyond this, the reporting tool allows users to benchmark their space against similar buildings in one of the largest building databases in the world. These diagnostic compatibilities allow building stakeholders to make informed management decisions, as well as being able to assess the effectiveness of building features and design strategies.
Finally, this tool and report can also be used to fulfill requirements for a number of building certification programs (e.g., LEED).
Significance to Industry
While there has been considerable focus on measuring and regulating the resource efficiency of buildings, less attention has been paid to the issue of how well buildings meet their design intent for the occupants. However, building occupants represent a wealth of information about how well a building actually works. Therefore, the challenge is to collect and analyze this input in a systematic and meaningful manner.
This survey and interactive reporting tool allows designers, developers, owners, operators and tenants to objectively gauge how well building services and design features are working. Above all, this information is especially useful to building owners and tenants interested in optimizing environments that truly support an occupant’s goals and needs.
CBE developed a web-based survey with an integrated, flexible branching structure, and automated, easy to understand interactive reporting tool. Its branching structure allows for the collection of more detailed data where appropriate, without burdening all survey respondents with overly detailed or inappropriate questions.
The current CBE survey focuses on seven areas of indoor environmental performance; including thermal comfort, air quality, acoustics, lighting, cleanliness, spatial layout, and office furnishings. It has been implemented in over 1,000 buildings to date, with over 100,000 individual occupant responses (as of March 2017). Even more so, additional survey modules have been created to gather data on additional topics such as security, accessibility, transportation, and green building features.
Survey results are viewed via an advanced interactive reporting tool. This reporting tool allows researchers, building owners, and design teams to view data to study specific questions and trends.
We are implementing the survey for a number of private and institutional clients on an on-going basis. At times we have focused mass deployments of surveys to study specific building types and features. For example, in the past we implemented a series of surveys in LEED buildings in order to study the relative IEQ performance of these building in comparison to other buildings in the survey database. Similarly, we are currently deploying surveys to a number of buildings with radiant systems to capture metrics on buildings with these systems and compare their IEQ performance to those buildings that do not have radiant systems. This is also allowing us to create the largest database of radiant buildings worldwide.
Top performing buildings that use the CBE survey are invited to participate in the annual Livable Buildings Awards, which showcase buildings that perform well in terms of sustainability, overall design, and occupant satisfaction.
Publications and Reports
Parkinson, T., Schiavon, S., Kim, J., & Betti, G. (2023). Common sources of occupant dissatisfaction with workspace environments in 600 office buildings. Buildings and Cities, 4(1), 17–35. https://doi.org/10.5334/bc.274
Parkinson, T., Schiavon, S., de Dear, R., & Brager, G. (2021). Overcooling of offices reveals gender inequity in thermal comfort. Scientific Reports, 11(1), 23684. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-03121-1
- Kent, M., Parkinson, T., Kim, J., & Schiavon, S. (2021). A data-driven analysis of occupant workspace dissatisfaction. Building and Environment, 205, 108270. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.buildenv.2021.108270
Graham, L., T. Parkinson, and S. Schiavon. 2021. Lessons learned from 20 years of CBE’s occupant surveys. Building and Cities, Volume 2, Issue 1, pages 166-184. February. https://doi.org/10.5334/bc.76
Schiavon, S. and S. Altomonte. 2014. Influence of factors unrelated to environmental quality on occupant satisfaction in LEED and non-LEED certified buildings. Building and Environment, Volume 77, 148-159. http://escholarship.org/uc/item/52w3025m
Altomonte, S. and S. Schiavon, 2013. Occupant satisfaction in LEED and non-LEED certified buildings. Building and Environment, Volume 68, pp: 66-76. http://escholarship.org/uc/item/4j61p7k5
Goins, J., C. Chun and H. Zhang, 2012. User perspectives on outdoor noise in buildings with operable windows. Proceedings of the 7th Windsor Conference: The changing context of comfort in an unpredictable world. Windsor, UK. April 12-15. http://escholarship.org/uc/item/09t037ks
Wargocki, P., M. Frontczak, S. Schiavon, J. Goins, E. Arens and H. Zhang H. 2012. Satisfaction and self-estimated performance in relation to indoor environmental parameters and building features. Proceedings of 10th International Conference on Healthy Buildings, Brisbane, Australia. July. http://escholarship.org/uc/item/451326fk
Frontczak, M., S. Schiavon, J. Goins, E. Arens, H. Zhang, and P. Wargocki, 2012. Quantitative relationships between occupant satisfaction and aspects of indoor environmental quality and building design. Indoor Air Journal, Volume 22, Issue 2, 119-131. Earlier version in Proceedings of Indoor Air 2011. Austin, TX, June 5-10. http://escholarship.org/uc/item/1wc7t219
Brager, G., E. Arens, J. Goins, and D. Lehrer. 2011. Learning from buildings: Technologies for measuring, benchmarking and improving performance. Proceedings of USGBC Greenbuild Conference. Toronto. October 4-7. http://escholarship.org/uc/item/0h1315v8
Baker, L. 2011. What School Buildings Can Teach Us: Post-Occupancy Evaluation Surveys in K-12 Learning Environments. Master of Science in Architecture Thesis, UC Berkeley. http://escholarship.org/uc/item/2kw2g6rs
Brager, G. and L. Baker, 2008. Occupant Satisfaction in Mixed-Mode Buildings. Proceedings, Air Conditioning and the Low Carbon Cooling Challenge, Windsor, UK, July. http://escholarship.org/uc/item/40k1s1vd
Abbaszadeh, S., L. Zagreus, D. Lehrer, and C. Huizenga, 2006. Occupant Satisfaction with Indoor Environmental Quality in Green Buildings. Proceedings, Healthy Buildings 2006, Vol. III, 365-370, Lisbon, Portugal, June. http://escholarship.org/uc/item/9rf7p4bs
Huizenga, C., S. Abbaszadeh, L. Zagreus, and E. Arens, 2006.
Air Quality and Thermal Comfort in Office Buildings. Results of a Large Indoor Environmental Quality Survey. Proceedings, Healthy Buildings 2006, Vol. III, 393-397, Lisbon, Portugal, June. http://escholarship.org/uc/item/7897g2f8
Zagreus, L., C. Huizenga, E. Arens, and D. Lehrer, 2004. Listening to the Occupants: A Web-based Indoor Environmental Quality Survey. Indoor Air 2004; 14 (Suppl 8): pp. 65–74. http://escholarship.org/uc/item/8cf6c6dr
Lehrer, D., et. al., 2006. LEED Post-Occupancy Evaluation: Taking Responsibility for the Occupants. (long version) BetterBricks USGBC Workshops, Portland and Seattle, November.
Huizenga, C., et. al., 2005. LEED Post Occupancy Evaluation: Taking Responsibility for Occupants (short version) Greenbuild Expo and Conference 2005, Atlanta, November.