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Design Quality Method (DQM) -- Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE)

The Design Quality Method (DQM) is a tried and tested, independent, post occupancy evaluation (POE) method used by all UK auditing authorities, and many funding bodies.

The DQM assesses design quality, building performance feedback and operational efficiency in a quick and economical fashion - using expert opinion; professional judgement; user opinion; and scientific measurement. The DQM database includes over a hundred buildings, evaluated over the past decade, to form industry benchmarks for all building types and portfolios. The Design Quality Manual; improving building performance, by Martin Cook, was published by Blackwells in 2007. POE is recommended by the RIBA and CABE.

Post occupancy evaluation (POE)

Post occupancy evaluation, or building performance feedback, should be used to assess the commissioning; operation; and occupant opinion of every new or refurbished building. The RIBA Plan of Work recommends post occupancy evaluation as part of Stage L, Post Practical Completion. RIBA Stage L2 includes assisting building users during initial occupation, and RIBA Stage L3 entails reviewing the building performance in use. POE completes the feedback loop of the building procurement lifecycle, and regular assessment should ensure more efficient operation of the building over a potential whole life of sixty years or more.

Design Quality Method (DQM)

The Design Quality Method (DQM) covers all aspects of design quality and building performance, such as architecture; environmental engineering; user comfort; whole life costs; detailed design; and user satisfaction. DQM results are benchmarked against industry standards, as well as Good and Best Practice. The Audit Commission, Northern Ireland Audit Office, National Audit Office, and Audit Scotland have all used the DQM to audit the design quality and value-for-money of educational and health buildings. The Scottish Funding Council is currently using the DQM to assess new college and university buildings.

Architecture Including the more functional qualities of specification, site and space planning, as well as the relatively subjective area of aesthetic merit
Environment  Engineering Including objective and scientifically measurable aspects such as lighting, noise, temperature, and air-pollution levels
User Comfort Internal comfort conditions are scientifically measurable and links between them and productivity are increasingly evident
Whole Life Costs Including occupancy costs and the whole life performance of building fabric, components and services. Assessment of the balance between capital and running costs that affect future building performance
Detailed Design Including assessment of the maintenance and occupancy costs arising from aspects of detailed design and specification
User Satisfaction Building occupants are asked to rate their satisfaction with their building by responding to structured questions

Measuring improvements in design quality and building performance

The Design Quality Method's simple graphical display of results allows quick focus on aspects of design quality and building performance that warrant further investigation. Comparisons are also made easy - between individual buildings, samples and portfolios.

Design reviews

Post occupancy evaluation provides an invaluable feedback loop for future projects. The commitment to RIBA Stage L, Post Practical Completion, at the beginning of a new project, with clear criteria such as the DQM approach written into the design brief helps to close the building lifecycle loop. The design charette and critique are design review techniques that have stood the test of time - consistently used in schools of architecture and by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE). Design reviews using the DQM and focusing on practical issues help to ensure functionality and fitness for purpose when the time for post occupancy evaluation occurs. Design reviews are best initiated before the end of RIBA Stage D, Design Development, and before an application for planning permission is submitted. Sustainability must now be added to the ancient principles of firmness; commodity; and delight (use other words from PowerPoint presentation)

RIBA Plan of Work

The RIBA Plan of Work is a conceptual framework that outlines the different stages in a building project. Although it was first introduced about forty years ago, in an entirely sequential format, it is still relevant today - and is successively updated and adapted to new procurement methods. The RIBA Plan of Work has always contained a final stage to assist building users understand how to use their new building and review the performance of the building in use. Unfortunately, this important stage is not always implemented. However, the importance of post occupancy evaluation (POE) is increasingly recognised, and public funding bodies such as the Scottish Funding Council have made POE mandatory on all of the building projects they fund. A recent Audit Scotland report also recommended that local authorities implement POE on their new schools. The potential risk reductions from systematic POE are extensive, particularly for issues such as building and professional indemnity insurance. Buildings which function more efficiently are inherently more sustainable, and should increase the potential to improve human productivity, health and well-being.