LEaRN Evaluation Module 2: The development of a tool for evaluating the indoor environment quality in learning spaces

Year: 2016

Author: Soccio, Philippa, Cleveland, Ben

Type of paper: Refereed paper

Indoor environment quality (IEQ) is the combined impact of acoustics, lighting, thermal comfort and air quality on occupants inhabiting indoor spaces. It is the product of how indoor environments are designed, constructed, occupied and maintained. When IEQ is at substandard levels inside learning spaces, it can impact on how students and educators feel about that environment and/or perform in their day-today tasks. The importance of good IEQ performance inside learning environments is well recognised by national and international Green Building rating tools. The Australian Green Star Education Tool assigned 20% of the possible credits to IEQ performance, making it the second most important ‘environmental’ category after energy; in the United States the LEED Tool for Schools assigned 19 out a possible 110 points to IEQ performance. However in both cases, these are tools that reward predicted levels of IEQ performance based on the design, rather than actual IEQ performance from evaluating the spaces post occupancy.One of the barriers to IEQ evaluation is access to a tool, which communicates succinct and targeted information to a multi-disciplinary audience about the IEQ performance of learning environments. Such tools exist for commercial buildings because of the quantifiable financial gains of operating a business inside an office with good IEQ. For example a 2004 report by the Building Commission Victoria estimated that poor IEQ, annually cost the Australian economy $12 billion. Because of the complex myriad of factors that impact on effective teaching and learning, it is impossible to directly attribute student outcomes to IEQ performance, but it is widely regarded as a contributing factor. To overcome this barrier, the Learning Environments Applied Research Network (LEaRN) at The University of Melbourne has developed a new post occupancy evaluation tool for assessing IEQ performance inside learning spaces (referred to as Module 2). This tool is one of three evaluation modules developed by LEaRN to evaluate the design and use of learning spaces. In 2016, LEaRN Evaluation Module 2 is being piloted inside the new Melbourne School of Design Building at The University of Melbourne, opened in 2014 and awarded 6 Stars under the Green Star Education Tool (Version 1). This paper is a discussion of the tool’s development and the opportunities for refinement, which were raised during the piloting stage.