Leaman A, Bordass B
Bibliographic info:
Building Research and Information, Vol 29, No 2, 2001, pp 129-143

The main findings from the Probe occupant surveys are assessed. The emphasis is on the consequences for strategic thinking on how best to design and manage buildings to improve conditions for occupants and users, taking examples from the Probe studies. Comfort, health and productivity of occupants are positively associated statistically; and all are easily undermined by chronic, low-level problems. Improvement may not necessarily require raising overall environmental standards - particularly if this requires more energy or reduces perceived control, which occupants think has been falling steadily in recent years. Noise-related problems are also growing with today's trend to more open, more diverse and often more reverberant environments. For the occupant, 'satisficing' may be better than optimizing; and big benefits can come from minimizing the main causes of discomfort, ill health and low productivity - for example by designing and managing to help individuals to choose how to overcome local problems when they occur. Perhaps the greatest enemy of occupant satisfaction is where a building and its systems have become too complicated for its managers - even if this has often occurred initially at their request. Its greatest friends are simplicity, intelligibility, managed feedback, respect for people's comments and .rapid response.