Portsmouth Library by the Low Carbon Building Group


Understanding the effects of design and handover process in the in-use performance of a low carbon public building.


The University of Portsmouth’s new library is an extension to the existing 1970’s building and adds a substantial 3600m2 of additional space. The design brief asked for creating a stimulating and comfortable space, which is low in energy use and maintenance. Green issues were important and needed to be addressed within the project budget. Designed by Penoyre and Prasad architects, the building achieved a BREEAM very good rating and combines an innovative environmental strategy with context responsive design.

The building design incorporates ‘silent’ and ‘social’ zones within the library over three floors and includes a triple height central circulation called ‘the street’. Elevated walkways and bridges penetrate this space and link the old library with the new building.

The overall aim of this study is to undertake post-occupancy evaluation and monitoring of the University of Portsmouth library building in terms of its (predicted) energy performance, In-use temperature & humidity monitoring and user satisfaction.


A multi-modal POE method will be used for gathering the information for the case study. This will involve desktop research to establish basic background information and any details of previous evaluations that had been carried out, technical data pro-forma to establish construction as well as predicted building performance, data-logging temperature and humidity, and questionnaire surveys and semi-structured interviews with key actors using open-ended prompts.

Using this approach the project is divided into the following activity stages:

  • Analysis of drawings, specifications, predicted resource consumption (gas, and electric).
  • Continuous monitoring of temperature and humidity using data loggers in the specific areas.
  • Questionnaire surveys of building users (students) to assess user satisfaction, and subsequent analysis.
  • Triangulation of the findings from desktop research, physical monitoring and user satisfaction questionnaires.


Overall, the temperature monitoring in the main spaces shows that the heavy thermal mass of the building maintains relatively stable internal temperatures in all the seasons. However, the temperature maintained is on the warmer side. This is also similar to the occupant’s response who constantly complained about a warm to hot building. This can be easily solved by the facilities management team by reducing the thermostat temperature by a few of degrees.

The light quality was rated as being satisfactory accompanied by some issues with glare from both natural and artificial lights. The library building performs relatively well in terms of minimising noise from internal and external sources. The building’s image to the visitors is rated as particularly positive, higher than the benchmark average. Overall, the student results are more positive than the staff results. The students find the building works well for their requirements, and provides a pleasing environment.



Low Carbon Building Group

Oxford Brookes University
Headington Campus
Gipsy Lane
Oxford, OX3 0BP