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Open Access Publications from the University of California

What School Buildings Can Teach Us: Post-Occupancy Evaluation Surveys in K-12 Learning Environments


Using the CBE Indoor Environmental Quality Occupant survey, (POE) surveys were conducted in 61 school buildings across the country (roughly 1700 teachers and staff completed the survey), 11 of which were designated as “green” buildings (defined here as having either a LEED certification or an AIA Committee on the Environment Top Ten award).  Detailed information about each building was collected, including occupancy demographics, size, age, and general information on HVAC systems.  User satisfaction scores were compared to various design features in school environments, to investigate the nature of the relationship between school building design and teacher satisfaction with indoor environments.  Students were not surveyed, due to difficulties in getting access to students, and the large age range of students in schools that were surveyed (K-12).  However, teachers proved to be very thorough and representative respondents, often responding representatively for their students. 

The primary objective of this research is to demonstrate the usefulness of occupant feedback mechanisms in school buildings, both for individual building feedback loops, but also for school districts and the industry as a whole.  The study aims to show that POEs can produce a variety of interesting, relevant and targeted results with minimal effort and inconvenience to staff and students.  Finally, the study aims to identify some trends in school buildings that may have a positive or negative impact on teacher satisfaction.  This can ultimately help designers to better understand the implications of certain school design features, and support the argument that school facilities impact overall school quality.

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