Building designers need far better feedback on how well their buildings work. Existing buildings offer a wealth of opportunities for designers to learn, and to improve future designs. A more comprehensive understanding of how existing buildings develop and change over time, and meet, or fail to meet, user expectations offers designers the opportunity to learn from existing buildings. Also, feedback loops are needed to ensure that designers learn lessons from built projects and apply them to future designs.

In addition, there is a particular need to understand whether claimed “green buildings” really do meet the needs of occupants and reduce their environmental impacts. Assessing real building performance from both a technical and social perspective is one way of both raising the profile of issues that are important to building occupants, and of improving understanding of real building performance.

Several new mechanisms have been proposed in recent years that offer the opportunity to re-establish some of the missing feedback mechanisms for designers. These can provide direct information on the performance of their designs potentially leading to better performing buildings environmentally, economically and socially. This can minimise problems and utilise those design features that work successfully, applying the laws of survival of the fittest. This paper reviews some of the recent initiatives to establish better feedback mechanisms.

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