Although many architects profess interest in post-occupancy performance, only a handful have taken action to derive more reliable and sophisticated ways to gather data. Seattle-based LMN Architects believes its Post Occupancy Data Device (PODD) can become “the tool that is missing,” by capturing how a completed building performs over the course of a day, a week, or a month. The firm’s effort includes both hardware and software design.
Each PODD unit packages wireless, networked instruments for measuring temperature, humidity, air quality, ambient light, ambient sound, and other environmental parameters. The adaptable, plug-and-play design allows for the exchange or addition of new sensors. LMN also designed open-source software to give users finer control of data collection by adjusting the frequency at which each sensor within each PODD takes a measurement. The device is envisioned as a complement to occupant surveys and the built-in data collection tools offered by some M/E/P systems.
“We all understand the value of post-occupancy evaluations, but this would allow more people to do it,” said juror Carrie Strickland, FAIA.
In PODD’s inaugural field test, LMN deployed three units, each measuring 5 inches by 4 inches by 2 inches, over a three-day period in a student center recently completed by the firm. The devices recorded the ambient conditions of spaces that varied in size, lighting, and ventilation. With 12 units in operation at press time, LMN is planning to run two experiments for up to eight weeks “to see what the datasets look like over different time increments, and at what point we get diminishing returns,” says designer Plamena Milusheva, Assoc. AIA.
The latest iteration of PODD’s 3D-printed enclosure measures 6 inches by 5 inches by 4.5 inches and is transparent, inviting the curiosity of building occupants while protecting the sensitive equipment. “This prototype is going in the right direction,” affirmed juror James Garrett Jr., AIA.
LMN invests in time-consuming, nonbillable research endeavors for one primary reason, says partner Stephen Van Dyck, AIA. “The value is in our ability to improve our designs in the future—to make better buildings,” he says. “When we don’t see the tool we need, we think, ‘Let’s try to build it.’ ”
Project: Post Occupancy Data Device (PODD)
Design Firm: LMN Architects, Seattle . Plamena Milusheva, Assoc. AIA, Chris Savage, Assoc. AIA, Kjell Anderson, AIA
Research Partners: Belal Abboushi; Affiliated Engineers . Lyle Keck, James McNeill, Geoff McMahon
Fabricators: LMN Architects, Good Measure Design, Prototron Circuits, Printed Circuits Assembly Corp.
Special Thanks: Scott Crawford, Assoc. AIA, Sam Miller, FAIA, Wendy Pautz, FAIA, Osama Quotah, AIA, Shima Sahebnassagh, Assoc. AIA, Stephen Van Dyck, AIA