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PROBE - Post Occupancy Studies

This series of case studies, known as the Post Occupancy Review of Building Engineering (PROBE) Studies, describe practical evaluation studies on a number of buildings.

Work undertaken by the CIBSE over many years has shown that Post Occupancy Evaluation of buildings is a proven tool for delivering better building performance and value for money.

PROBE was a research project which ran from 1995-2002 under the Partners in Innovation scheme (jointly funded by the UK Government and The Builder Group, publishers of Building Services Journal - now the CIBSE Journal). It was carried out by Energy for Sustainable Development, William Bordass Associates, Building Use Studies and Target Energy Services. 

A number of later post occupancy case studies can be found in the CIBSE Journal, including a Post Occupancy Evaluation special in March 2012.

PROBE 1 Case Studies

This document provides an introduction to the PROBE series of case studies.

PROBE 1: Tanfield House, Edinburgh (1995)
The first of the PROBE case studies, measuring actual energy use and comparing this against industry benchmarks. The building was also revisited in 2006.

PROBE 2: 1 Aldermanbury Square (1995)
This study focused on 1 Aldermanbury Square, the first speculative office in the UK to feature the installation of an ice storage system and explored the true performance of off-peak ice storage systems.

PROBE 3: Cheltenham and Gloucester Chief Office, Bamwood (1995)
Focused on the C&G Chief Office near Gloucester, completed in 1989 and providing accommodation for 930 staff.

PROBE 4: Queens Building, De Monttfort University (1996)
A radical building which was the showcase for the new University. This was also the first in a series of reports on innovative buildings to be published under the Energy Efficient Best Practice programme.

PROBE 5: Cable & Wireless College, Coventry (1996)
Winner of the Sunday Times Building of the Year Award in 1994, this represented the very latest approach to natural ventilation for low rise buildings.

PROBE 6: Woodhouse Medical Centre, Sheffield (1996)
One of the first truly green buildings in the UK.

PROBE 7: Homeowners Friendly Society, Gardner House (1996)

PROBE 8: Queens Building (Learning Resource Centre), Anglia Polytechnic University (1996)
An innovative structure at the heart of the Rivermead Campus.

PROBE 9: Energy and engineering technical review (1997)
This study looks at the first 8 buildings tested in the PROBE case studies and assesses the engineering and energy issues. How well do lighting controls work? Are energy efficiency targets being met, and how important is the quality of
construction to delivering good comfort conditions?

PROBE 10: Occupancy Survey Analysis (1997)
Case study no longer available. Originally published in the Building Services Journal, May 1997, p.35-38.

PROBE 2 case studies

This document provides background on the research methods for the PROBE 2 series of case studies.

PROBE 11: John Cabot City Technology College, Bristol (1997)
A centrally funded, technology-based college where value-for-money was essential owing to a government spending freeze.

PROBE 12: Rotherham Magistrates Court (1997)
A low energy building in a town centre site.

PROBE 13: Charities Aid Foundation, Kent (1998)
Exploring the success of the building in combining natural ventilation, adiabatic cooling and passive solar architecture.

PROBE 14: Elizabeth Fry Building, University of East Anglia (1998)
One of the first buildings to use Swedish Termodeck and other Swedish detailing for its ventilation. The building was revisited in 2012 and its performance found to remain excellent:

PROBE 15a: Productivity in Buildings: The Killer Variables (1998)
What aspects of buildings and workplaces influence human productivity? Are organisations shaped by their buildings? If so, can the design and management processes be optimised?

PROBE 15b: R. Bunn, PROBE Feedback (1998)
A report from a seminar in May 1998 in which clients, design teams and facilities managers from the buildings studied under PROBE met to discuss their experiences.

PROBE 16: Marston Book Services (1998)
An innovative building using an Interactive Window System, natural ventilation and passive solar architecture.

PROBE 17: Cooperative Retail Services HQ, Rochdale (1998)
One of the first buildings to benefit from chilled beams, displacement ventilation and ice thermal storage.

PROBE 18: Portland Building, University of Portsmouth (1999)
The fifth of the educational buildings surveyed by the probe team, this building had a reputation as an imaginative low-energy building.

PROBE 19: Designer Feedback (1999)
Feedback following the completion of the second set of PROBE studies gathered at a roundtable seminar in 1999.

PROBE 20: Barclaycard Headquarters, Northampton (2000)
An assessment of whether one of the greenest corporate headquarters of the 1990s lived up to its environmental qualifications.

PROBE 21: Orchard Learning Resource Centre
Case study no longer available. Originally published in the Building Services Journal, March 1999, p.35-38.

Intervention study: Birchensale Middle School, Redditch (2000)
The PROBE team works with the engineers and designers of the Birchensale School to refine the original design in the light of the lessons learned from the PROBE studies

PROBE 3 case studies

This document provides a special report on the third series of PROBE case studies.

PROBE 22: Enschede Tax Office Extension, Holland (2001)
Following the initial two series of PROBE case studies, this analysis of an extension to a Dutch tax office recorded the lowest building services related CO2 emissions of any of the examined buildings.

PROBE 23: Centre for Mathematical Sciences, Cambridge (2001)
The final of the classic PROBE case studies examines a campus of pavilion buildings home to Stephen Hawking.