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What do young people tell us about sustainable lifestyles when they design sustainable schools? Post-occupancy evaluation of new schools with the participation of children
conference contributionposted on 06.10.2011, 09:20 by Andrea Wheeler, Dino Boughlagem, Masoud Malekzadeh
The UK government created a unique educational opportunity with the recent school building programme. Its aims were described as transforming learning and embedding sustainability into the life experience of every child. However, how do young people understand these aims, and the concepts of sustainable lifestyles and sustainable communities, now they have begun to be translated into school design? This paper reports on the recently suspended programme and discusses the value of Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE) as a way of capturing successes and failures of what has been implemented so far. POE provides an opportunity for young people to critically engage with why our energy use and our relationship with the natural environment has to change. POE can also examine the gap between predicted and actual energy performance of a building and human behaviour is key in such investigations. The focus on innovative technologies is in danger of ignoring the human factors involved in reducing our impact on the environment. Current approaches used in Education for Sustainability can also ignore the complex social aspects of encouraging sustainable lifestyles. This paper describes an emergent POE approach developed and used to carried out research with young people in the UK using this method. It examines reoccurring themes across case studies and describes young peoples’ experience with contradictory adults’ behaviours. If we are to meet the needs of future generations, we will all have to be able to design for ourselves – albeit in negotiation with others – environments in which we can live in different ways. Participatory post-occupancy assessments hence have multiple benefits, whilst for architects, they provide feedback on the performance of buildings; for young people they are also creative opportunities to begin to explore sustainable development, with all the philosophical and political complexities this entails, and to begin to rethink and redesign their lifestyles
- Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering