f you perform an internet-based search for Post-Occupancy Evaluation (POE) and/or Facility Performance Evaluation (FPE) – “POE” will only get you links regarding Edgar Allan Poe – you will see that the body of literature is not growing very quickly. The results include a cursory Wikipedia blurb and proceed with a few government sites from the Unites States, the UK, and Australia; a couple of private businesses that offer POE services; old links to papers and books by early innovators and developers of POE/FPE theory and methods; and a stagnant collection of how-to papers, why-to papers, and actual POEs that have been conducted on various settings. What is missing from all of this is new thought and discussion about how POE goals, methods, and theory are evolving or can evolve? How might POE/FPE evolve in the world of digital tools and Big Data? How might these changes impact the types of information being collected? How does that alter the output or reporting style? How do these changes impact the effectiveness and usefulness of POE-based knowledge in the various phases of a buildings life-cycle? etc. Where is the growth in the field?
To be fair, there is some exciting work being done and much of it is being collected and put forth by the International Building Performance Evaluation (IBPE) collective. Their latest contribution is the wonderful book titled Enhancing Building Performance, the second edition of which was published in 2012. However, is that the cumulative output of the field since that same group’s 2005 publication of the predecessor to that book, Assessing Building Performance? When compared to the fields of Program Evaluation, Organizational Evaluation, and other evaluative professions, the field of Building Evaluation doesn’t seem to be as productive with regard to sharing their collective knowledge and considerable insights. Perhaps we can learn how to be better at this from these other evaluation professions. Sure, you can’t judge the productivity or effectiveness of a field of study simply by the number of links on the internet or the number of publications on Amazon.com but we think you get the picture. The picture being painted is that POE/FPE isn’t a very socially active field and does not appear to have a collective desire to discuss and share the forward movements that are being made by its practitioners. Have you seen the Post-Occupancy Evaluation Group on LinkedIn? It has 19 members and only three or four people ever contribute to the discussion. Meanwhile, the American Evaluation Association has over 13,000 members on LinkedIn and an incredibly robust conversation amongst its members.
In any event, to gather some insight into our original questions, we decided to take a quick look at what is happening in other evaluation fields. What types of conversations are being had? What kinds of questions are being asked on the professional websites? What is happening in the blogosphere? How many active Groups show up on LinkedIn? etc. And you know what, it is a much more exciting world out there than in that of Building Evaluation. Why is that? That is probably a conversation for another time but in the meantime it is exciting to think about what we might be able to learn from these other evaluation fields. The latest thought leaders on innovation and creativity suggest that analogous thinking is one of the most fruitful methods for developing innovative and creative solutions to a problem. With that in mind, here are a couple of resources that building evaluators may find interesting with regard to evaluation in general. We hope you enjoy them and that they will stimulate conversation amongst ourselves about how we might better our community.
Keith Jundanian, Co-Chair POE/Programming Network
AEA365 - A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators
Associations and Organizations
American Evaluation Association
United Nations Evaluation Group
Degree Program in Evaluation at Western Michigan University
New Directions for Evaluation published by Wiley & Sons and the American Evaluation Association
Journal of Multidisciplinary Evaluation