Abacus Institute

Evidence-based design.

Linking building performance measures and outcomes.

Our process for ensuring evidence-based design integrity

Understand Needs - Organizational documentation is reviewed and stakeholders are engaged to develop a consensual understanding of user needs, system requirements, daily workflow and supportive features. Extensive programming efforts may be necessary to prepare for organizational “culture change” efforts being undertaken in conjunction with architectural development.
Define Objectives - The entire scope of the project–including the envisioned building spaces and features–are defined and described. Discrete design strategies are identified based upon their associated likelihood of either advancing desirable outcomes or mitigating undesirable outcomes; this process is commonly referred to as “evidence-based design.”
Prioritize Goals - User needs and organizational objectives serve as the primary means for prioritizing associated design strategies. Costs associated with the successful advancement of goals and avoidance of undesirable outcomes may also be estimated to further prioritize the selection and implementation of specific products or features.
Secure Resources - Credible, objective and reliable information and/or outlets for products are secured along with evaluation metrics and/or measures. Information, costs and requirements associated with the installation, training or ongoing operation informs the selection and procurement of design-specific strategies or features.
Appraise Information - Information about the relevance, rigor, validity and generalizability of design strategies is critically interpreted. A classification system is used to organize and consider the applicability and dependability of information (e.g., peer-reviewed sources, expert consensus, industry or trade publications, best practices, vendor advertising, etc.).
Devise Solutions - Relevant information is translated into summarized guiding statements to help designers make decisions in relation to aesthetics, function or composition. Preliminary design concepts are derived and composed from the design guidelines.
Identify Measures - Predictions are articulated and documented pertaining to the expected link between design strategies and associated outcomes. The predictions include information about what will be required to collect, analyze and interpret outcome measures.
Establish Project Baselines - Existing processes or product-based outcomes will be evaluated and measured prior to the modification of the environment. These evaluation strategies and measures are repeated after the completion of the project to determine the impact of the design strategies.
Delineate Value - The value and extent of intended outcomes are weighed against the cost and priority associated with each design strategy. The delineation of value is an especially important process during the value-engineering phase(s) of a design project.
Direct Implementation - The execution and/or application of design strategies is guided and/or monitored as appropriate to ensure the integrity of process and outcome measures.
Assess Progress - Objective pre-established measures, as well as stakeholder input, guide the evaluation of the proper execution, accessibility and practicality for use.
Specify Use - The evidence-based design documentation is summarized to provide information and specific examples of how the design strategies, products and associated utilization are intended to produce or contribute to intended outcomes.
Verify Implementation - To ensure the integrity of process and outcome measures, the proper execution.
Verify Performance - Modifications are made to design strategies and/or associated outcome measures in an effort to maintain realistic linkages, patterns of use and expectations.
Tailor Solutions - When necessary and/or appropriate, modifications are made to design or outcome measurement strategies or training and instructions for use to accommodate industry advancements or other changes.
Confirm Usability - Stakeholders are engaged to confirm the practicality and utility of design strategies.
Building Performance Analysis - The impact of the built environment on performance and outcome measures may be evaluated at any point during the occupancy of a building. Some measures, such as systems performance, rely upon comparing actual vs. intended performance data. Other measures that center on human performance factors may require a combination of existing organizational records, observation, and stakeholder engagement.
Post-occupancy evaluation (POE) - Post-occupancy evaluations are typically conducted after operational stability has been re-established following the modification of the built environment. A broad range of stakeholders are engaged in sharing insights related to the alignment of processes, desires and environmental affordances. The time and resources associated with conducting a POE vary based upon the intended outcome (e.g., indicative, investigative and diagnostic[1]).
Continuous Quality Improvement - The built environment is frequently taken for granted as a modifiable contributor to service efficiency, efficacy and economy. Similarly, environmental insights and expertise are frequently an overlooked omission during organizational strategic planning and CQI efforts. Multiple evaluation measures and approaches may be employed to ensure the optimization of design strategies.
Adaptive Reuse - Significant changes in use, ownership or occupancy frequently require the modification of the built environment. In these instances, multiple evaluation measures and approaches may be employed to ensure the optimization of design strategies.
[1] Preiser, W.F.E., Rabinowitz, H.Z., and White, E.T. (1988). Post-Occupancy Evaluation. Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, USA.

Abacus Institute 4D+E Approach

The Abacus Institute 4D+E Approach offers a well-defined method for ensuring that informed solutions are tailored to the needs and goals of each client and project. The details may vary, depending on the client or complexity of the building, but the orderly, stage-by-stage process is applicable to every project.

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