Globally, a primary concern is whether green office buildings perform as promised in terms of providing better indoor environment quality (IEQ) for employees, which may affect their satisfaction and work performance. In the Middle East, although there has been renewed interest in green building design, post occupancy evaluation of performance has never been conducted to-date, and evidence of actual occupant perception in green and non-green buildings is still ambiguous. Hence, we present the first study on IEQ performance in the Middle East. We show that Jordan can be taken as a representative example and systematically compare five “green” office buildings (representing 71% of all green-certified office buildings) against eight comparable conventional office buildings (CBs). Detailed bi-lingual survey data on perceived IEQ (n = 502) and work performance are accompanied by high-resolution continuous physical measurements of air temperature + relative humidity (n = 83) and CO2 concentrations (n = 21) with periodic measurements of mean radiant temperature and air speed, covering two typical summers and one typical winter. Results show both buildings types comply with design standards for indoor CO2 levels, while thermal comfort in green buildings is better than in CBs. However, CBs have a higher overall occupant satisfaction of IEQ. Work performance measured as absolute and relative absenteeism was slightly higher in CBs, with no significant differences in relative and absolute presenteeism between the two buildings types. These findings challenge the notion that green buildings improve occupant satisfaction and work performance over CBs and suggest the need for a better understanding of the performance-satisfaction gap.
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The authors would like to thank Mr Mualla for helping with data collection, Dr Nick McCullen for assistance with Raspberry-Pi loggers, and Dr Ian Walker for helping in the design of the questionnaire, and the management of the surveyed buildings for allowing the authors to conduct the study. This work is supported by Al-Ahliyya Amman University in Jordan. D. Fosas reports funding from the UK EPSRC project “The Active Building Centre Research Programme” [EP/V012053/1].
Previous version: This paper is an extension of work originally presented in the conference “Indoor Air quality, Ventilation, and Energy Conservation in Buildings” (Elnaklah and Natarajan 2019).
Data Access statement: Data presented in this study are openly available at https://doi.org/10.15125/BATH-00863
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Elnaklah, R., Fosas, D. & Natarajan, S. Indoor environment quality and work performance in “green” office buildings in the Middle East. Build. Simul. 13, 1043–1062 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12273-020-0695-1