A framework for evaluating post-occupancy environmental sustainability performance of neighbourhoods in New Zealand.


The Challenge

  • This project was set within a larger piece of work as part of the government funded National Science Challenge 11 - Building Better Towns and Cities (NSC11) programme. 
  • To develop a Post Occupancy Evaluation framework based on international best practice, that was applicable to the New Zealand context, and to test the framework by using Hobsonville Point, Auckland as a case study neighbourhood. This framework was specific only to environmental sustainability performance, as opposed to the Four Pillars of Sustainability (environmental, cultural, social and economic sustainability).

The Journey 

  • This research project was delivered by TUA in collaboration with Dr Paola Boarin and Professor Errol Haarhoff, University of Auckland. TUA was part of the project team for NSC11 in the Future Neighbourhoods work stream.  
  • This project began with a review of the international literature on the Post-occupancy Evaluation of neighbourhoods and included a review of existing best practice assessment tools and certification schemes like Greenstar Communities and LEEDs. The purpose of the review was to identify the four most applicable tools to then compare for developing a New Zealand version which could be applied at the case study.
  • TUA provided a peer review of the initial literature review and then developed an evaluation framework matrix informed by international tools. TUA refined the framework through the case study process, to produce the final environmental sustainability framework in collaboration with Dr Paola Boarin. TUA also provided advice and assistance with data collection, developing the case study analysis of the proposed framework and writing the final report.

The Outcome

  • The Hobsonville Point case study tested the framework at a neighbourhood-wide and block scale. This research was considered novel for New Zealand, as no equivalent analysis of neighbourhood sustainability outcomes at this scale had been previously undertaken. 
  • The case study highlighted how improvements could be made to a) the environmental sustainability performance of New Zealand neighbourhoods and b) the applicability of the framework overall to support urban development outcomes.
  • The key learnings that influenced TUA’s approach in further evaluations include: 
  1. Project evaluation is data-dependent. Successful evaluation depends on what data is available or what the scope is to gather primary data. 
  2. To ensure that the analysis at the post-occupation stage is relevant and practical, data sources and collection methods should be identified and decided upon early. 
  3. A plan for monitoring and evaluation of the data gathered should be developed. 

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