Literary Museum: User Satisfaction Study
A recent post-occupancy study of the National English Literary Museum revealed useful findings with regards to user satisfaction, user comfort and user tolerance of the internal environment.7
The National English Literary Museum, completed in June 2016, is one of the first Public & Education (PEB) buildings in South Africa to achieve both 5-Star Green Star SA Design and As-built certifications. A recent post-occupancy study by Kenneth Rampou, Assistant Director: User Demand Management in the Real Estate Investment Services Directorate at the National Department of Public Works, in conjunction with Nelson Mandela University, indicated that perceptions of occupants regarding the building design rated highest in terms of satisfaction.
At the time of the study, the building had been occupied for a period of 24 months, with beneficial occupation having taken place on 1 July 2016. Rampou indicates:
Post-occupancy evaluation (POE) is beneficial for the control of the internal environment of the building to guide improved user comfort, well-being and satisfaction of occupants. This research employed a quantitative research approach using the BUS (building use studies) methodology questionnaire to determine the satisfaction of users with the performance of this green building.
The objectives of the study were to determine the extent to which users are satisfied with the overall performance of the National English Literary Museum; the extent to which users are comfortable within the museum’s environment; and to what extent users tolerate the indoor environment. For the purpose of this research, the building comfort index parameters referred to thermal comfort, visual comfort, indoor air quality (IAQ), and noise levels.
“It is crucial for post-occupancy evaluations to take the human aspects of health and well-being (productivity, comfort and satisfaction) into consideration,” Rampou affirmed.
The data analysis of the study included a comparative analysis of 70 similar buildings from the BUS database, and benchmarking determined whether the study building was better, the same as, or worse than similar buildings.
Findings of the study indicated that the perceptions of occupants rated highest in terms of satisfaction, attributable to the integrative design process of the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) and elements of social design; whereas perceived health rated the lowest. In terms of the factors of comfort, the perceptions of occupants regarding the overall comfort of the building were positive, although noise was a concern. On average, the building performed better than benchmark buildings.
The occupants of the building demonstrated tolerance with the building’s environment which may be attributable to pro-environmental behaviours. This information is beneficial to the facilities managers to enable occupants to exercise more control over the thermal conditions of the building. Building owners and managers should consider introducing noise reduction strategies in traffic areas such as floor padding for noise attenuation; and benefits might also arise from a noise awareness campaign and the installation of a visible or audible decibel warning system as additional strategies.
Demonstrating excellence within the South African construction sector, the National English Literary Museum was constructed by the Department of Public Works for the Department of Arts and Culture, with Solid Green Consulting as green building consultants and Intsika Architects responsible for the design.
Annelide Sherratt of Solid Green says:
A Building Users’ Guide was compiled with the intention of informing users about the building’s systems. By educating relevant parties to use and maintain building systems correctly, the building can optimize efficiency and performance, and the lifecycle of the building can be extended.
As a national literary resource, the Museum is thus able to offer an additional important learning resource for building users and visitors on the benefits of green building design, construction and operation.
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