Usability assessment framework for buildings : a case study of school buildings in Hong Kong

by Jinhua Wang

Institution: University of Hong Kong
Degree: PhD
Year: 2015
Keywords: Buildings - Performance
Record ID: 1177684
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10722/210185


Building performance assessment must address questions of "who", "what" and "how" to assess, it can be summarized in a formula: Context + Mechanism = Outcome, the context includes two parts, type of building and performance subject. A typical research work will choose one type of building and one subject, and develop a tool for it and do some analysis on the outcome. The research works of this kind are abundant. But in terms of mechanism, they are actually much alike, of which the two most typical ones are Professional-only model and POE process. The absence of practice to enhance the users’ capacity to conduct building performance assessment triggers the author to introduce the concept of usability, with spirit of “getting closer to users”, and to propose a usability assessment framework to fill up this gap in research field. The exploration of usability assessment is divided into two parts: theoretical construction and practical implementation. In the first part, author will review relevant theories at roots (including at least community psychology, evaluation capacity building (ECB), process in use and equal opportunity theory) and general empowerment evaluation, to come up with a tentative usability assessment framework, of which the empowerment evaluation is the key element, which is initially defined by Fetterman (1994) as “the use of evaluation concepts and techniques to foster self-determination", it takes the “give someone a fish and you feed her for one day; teach her to fish, and she will feed herself for the rest of her life” concept. The second part of practical implementation is dealing with some aspects identified in the first part. Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) is chosen as the subject and School type buildings are selected, together they form the case study for new practice’s demonstration and development. In each case, participant observation will be employed for addressing issues of “giving empowerment evaluation” and “effective empowerment settings”. Survey will be used for addressing the aspect of “user interpretation of performance assessment”. It must be emphasized that theoretical construction is the crux of the study, the second implementation part will serve to address certain aspects identified in part one and help to refine the framework in addition to demonstrate it in reality. The results are analyzed and the lessons learned are discussed in chapter 6 and the tentative framework was refined correspondingly. This study breaks the routine of current typical researches only focus on results and pays attention to evaluation process as well. It tempers the ethos of the generalization from building performance assessment results by professionals with a fresh emphasis on specificity of each particular building through a generalizable mechanism by users so that the usability could be enhanced. The new roles for building professionals and users were created. This study constructs the theoretical foundation for further development, which would enrich or complement current practices in…