Post occupancy evaluations of buildings are noted for their ability to provide vital feedback regarding a building's performance in use. In addition to obtaining physical measurements of thermal performance and energy consumption, it is crucial to obtain feedback on user experience and satisfaction with the building environment to gain a true picture of the effectiveness of low energy buildings. This paper will report findings of a study aimed at investigating building performance and occupant experience of the Torrent Research Centre in Ahmedabad, India. The Centre comprises six laboratory and office blocks, four of which incorporate a passive downdraft evaporative cooling system (PDEC). Air conditioning is restricted to the two equipment intensive laboratories. While a number of earlier publications have reported on the configuration of the environmental control systems and the thermal performance of this building, this paper will provide insights into the occupants' experience and feedback on the building and will detail the comparative performance of the PDEC and air conditioned (AC) blocks. Occupant perception of overall comfort (summer, winter and monsoon), temperature, air movement and quality, lighting, noise, productivity, health, design, image and workplace needs was evaluated using the Building Use Studies workplace survey.
The co-location of PDEC and AC blocks offers a unique opportunity to compare performance while overcoming issues arising from contextual differences such as conditions of work, attitudes and expectations of employees likely to occur between respondents in different countries. The findings reveal occupant satisfaction in both the PDEC and AC blocks to be well above Building Use Studies' international benchmarks. In addition to their lower energy consumption, the overwhelmingly positive user satisfaction responses of the PDEC blocks validate the integration of alternative climate control systems such as evaporative cooling in contemporary buildings in India.