George Baird

Emeritus Professor
Wellington School of Architecture

Prof Baird is no longer accepting new postgraduate candidates.




My research interests fall into four topic areas:

  • building performance–buildings in general, but with a particular focus on large-scale commercial and institutional buildings
  • users’ perceptions of sustainable buildings–in terms of their environmental and operational performance, and their influence on health and productivity
  • user performance benchmarks–their development and incorporation into Rating Tools for buildings in operation
  • internal environments of buildings–thermal, air quality, acoustic and lighting conditions in practice

Research projects

During the research for my book Sustainable Buildings in Practice – What the Users Think I undertook over 30 worldwide case study investigations into the principles and practice of low energy and environmentally sustainable building design. I used the powerful and comprehensive Building Use Studies survey methodology to collect data on the building occupants’ perceptions of the facilities provided.

The focus of my research is acquiring and sharing knowledge about users' perceptions of building performance. I have conducted a series of major surveys of the performance of leading-edge buildings in NZ and overseas, collaborating with researchers worldwide to ensure an international sample. This work has resulted in a series of conference papers and journal articles (see “Recent Journal Articles” below and “Full List of Publications”) together with a favourably reviewed book, and led to several invitations to address conferences and judge awards in the fields of sustainable building design and renewable energy systems. My aim is to quantify the impact of a range of factors on key indicators such as the productivity, health and comfort of the building users, and develop appropriate criteria. This has the potential to lead to building user benchmarks for the general New Zealand building stock and potential incorporation into our building performance rating tools.

I believe that my research over the last several years has been at the leading edge of building design and assessment. The data provided by responses from the over 4,500 users in some 57 commercial and institutional buildings worldwide is providing a rich source of material for further investigation. In my role as Emeritus Professor I am now spending less time undertaking surveys personally – preferring to collaborate with others – but more time at the strategic coal face of analysis - mining for the rich veins of information buried in the substantial database that has been amassed (an analogy with which I am very comfortable given my first degree was in mining engineering!).

Research partnerships and collaborative work

Currently I have an ongoing major research collaboration with Dr Eziaku Rasheed at Massey University in Auckland, and Maryam Khoshbakht Iradmoosa of Griffith University in Queensland’s Gold Coast, undertaking further surveys and analyses of users’ perceptions of commercial and institutional buildings.

Over the 2018/19 summer, I conducted a user perception survey of the Te Toki a Rata building with Summer Research Scholar and Master of Architecture student Saera Chun. This building, the University’s newest, houses the School of Biological Science. The survey is a follow-up to the one undertaken four years ago of that School’s previous premises in the Kirk Building and will no doubt provide interesting comparisons.

In addition, I continue to be very much involved in a range of editorial and assessment activities. At present, I am an Associate Editor of the prestigious Architectural Science Review, and a member of the Editorial Boards of the journals Intelligent Buildings International, Buildings, and Journal of Building Engineering.

I was a member of the International Scientific Committee for the recent Architectural Science Association Conference in Melbourne and the PLEA Conference in Hong Kong, as well as participating actively in both – presenting a paper at the former and as an invited participant at the latter.

Most recently, I have been a member of an Advisory Group for the Ministry of Education; an Assessor for MBIE’s 2018 Endeavour Fund, the Qatar National Research Fund, and the Aga Khan – Portugese Fund for Science and Technology; a judge of the annual Buildings Travel Award, invited keynote speaker at the World Sustainable Building Conference in Hong Kong and the Passive and Low Energy Architecture Conference in Edinburgh, and Guest Editor (with Prof Veronica Soebarto of the University of Adelaide) of a Special Issue of Architectural Science Review.

Selected publications

Major books

Energy Performance of BuildingsSustainable Buildings in PracticeBuilding Evaluation Techniques

From left to right: The Architectural Expression of Environmental Control Systems (Spon Press, London, 2001); Energy Performance of Buildings (CRC Press, Boca Raton, 1984); Sustainable Buildings in Practice- what the users think (Routledge, Abingdon, 2010); Building Evaluation Techniques (McGraw Hill, New York, 1996).

Current assessment methods of sustainable buildings do not adequately account for the users’ needs. Given that over the life of a building, total salary costs far outweigh both operating costs and combined capital and rental costs, the occupants’ needs are not something which should be sensibly ignored.

Sustainable Buildings in Practice presents an unbiased evaluation of thirty of the most cutting-edge, sustainable buildings in the world, in terms of the users’ perceived comfort, health and productivity. The author has visited the buildings, interviewed the design teams and examined the findings of a sixty-question standardized user questionnaire. The book provides:

  • thirty case studies covering mixed-mode, passive and environmentally sustainable commercial and institutional buildings
  • detailed insights into the principles underlying the design of sustainable buildings worldwide, over several climatic zones and eleven countries, together with clear explanations and illustrations of innovative design practice
  • a discussion of common issues and the lessons that may be learnt from a study of the performance of sustainable buildings in practice, from the point of view of the people who use them.

This important book will be of great benefit to architects and engineers, facility managers of commercial and institutional buildings, as well as developers and researchers, academics and students in these fields.

The Architectural Expression of Environmental Control Systems examines the way project teams can approach the design and expression of both active and passive environmental control systems in a more creative way. Using seminal case studies from around the world and interviews with the architects and environmental engineers involved, the book illustrates innovative responses to client, site and user requirements, focusing upon elegant design solutions to a perennial problem. This book will inspire architects, building scientists and building services engineers to take a more creative approach to the design and expression of environmental control systems - whether active or passive, whether they influence overall building form or design detail.

From environmental compliance to energy performance, the need for buildings to be monitored is ever growing. Building Evaluation Techniques presents a unified approach based on a database of 120 evaluation concepts, techniques and tools you can use to perform measurements across a wide variety of building types. It begins by showing the best ways to plan and carry out evaluations to meet specific objectives, then provides a huge array of procedures and case studies from leading edge practitioners from around the world. Lastly, step-by-step guidelines cover the measurement of everything from structural performance and spatial comfort to noise control and air quality.

Energy Performance of Buildings deals with the concerns of everyone involved with the use of energy in buildings:

  • energy planners and those involved in the drafting of energy standards at national and regional level.
  • building owners – whether occupiers, investors or developers.
  • building designers of all persuasions – architects, engineers, energy consultants, and so on.
  • building users – principally the building manager, the energy manager, and the building operator.
  • energy researchers, educators, and students of the field of energy and buildings.

Much of the material in this book stems from the authors’ work at the Energy Research Group of the Wellington School of Architecture. Material has also been drawn from the results of a few other systematic empirical studies of building energy use. The driving force behind all of these studies has been the desire to understand the factors that affect energy use in practice, a need to find ways of measuring and evaluating building energy performance, and doubts about the accuracy of the design predictions provided by current building simulation methods.


Chapter in Sustainability, Energy and Architecture:Case studies in green building success, Sayigh, A (Ed) (Elsevier, 2014) entitled Key characteristics of top performing sustainable buildings from the perspective of the users, pp 359 - 385..

OUP Companion to Architecture (Oxford University Press, 2009).
Entries on the topics of Air Conditioning, Drainage, Electrics and Electronic Servicing, Engineering (Services), Environmental Control, Heating, Insulation, and Plumbing.

Chapter 12 in Global Warming and the Built Environment, Samuels R and Prasad D K (Eds), (E and FN Spon, London, 1994) entitled Materials Selection and Energy Efficiency.

Recent journal articles

Rasheed, E. O., Khoshbakht, M. and Baird, G. ‘Does the number of occupants in an office influence individual perceptions of comfort and productivity? – new evidence from 5000 office workers’. Buildings 2019, 9, 73; doi:10.3390/buildings9030073 (25 March 2019).

Baird, G., Rasheed, E. O. and Wareing, S. ‘The influence of demographic and locational factors on occupants’ perception scores for their buildings’. Proceedings of the 52nd International Conference of the Architectural Science Association, Melbourne, Dec 2018 (pp 35-42).

Soebarto, V and Baird, G. (Guest Editors) ‘Recent advancements in architectural science for the 21st century’. Special Issue of Architectural Science Review, 61.4, 2018 (in press).

Thompson, J. S., Donn, M. and Baird, G. ‘The reintroduction of natural ventilation to a 19th century opera house utilising calibrated computer simulation and user operation’. 38th AIVC Conference, Nottingham, Sept 2017. Subsequently revised and published as ‘Reintroduction of natural ventilation to a 19th century opera house’ in The REHVA European HVAC Journal, Vol 55, Issue 3, 41-45, June 2018.

Thompson, J. S., Donn, M. and Baird, G. ‘The calibration process for a CFD simulated model of a naturally ventilated auditorium’. Proceedings of the 15th IBPSA Conference, San Francisco, 7-9 August 2017, 2572-2580.

Baird, G. ‘Why assess performance from the occupants’ viewpoint?’ Presentation to Plenary 5, PLEA2017, Edinburgh, July 2017, Pp32.

Baird, G. and Wareing, S. ‘Users’ perceptions of building performance – an analysis of the occupants’ comments’. Conference Proceedings of World Sustainable Built Environment Conference 2017 Hong Kong, June 2017, 2327-2333.

Metibogun, L and Baird, G. ‘Rethinking architectural passive cooling strategies in New Zealand’s non-residential building stock. Conference Proceedings of World Sustainable Built Environment Conference 2017 Hong Kong, 1939-1944.

Baird, G. and Wareing, S. ‘Commercial and Academic Buildings’ Performance – comparative analyses of occupants’ perceptions’. Proceedings of the 50th International Conference of the Architectural Science Association, Adelaide, Dec 2016, 557-566.

Metibogun, L. and Baird, G. ‘Integrating Green Building Index Consultancy with Residential Building Design’. Proceedings of the 50th International Conference of the Architectural Science Association, Adelaide, Dec 2016, 455-464.

Amasuomo, T.T. and Baird, G. ‘Evolution of buildings in four tropical regions with regards to thermal comfort’. Proceedings of the 50th International Conference of the Architectural Science Association, Adelaide, Dec 2016, 617-626.

Amasuomo, T.T., Atanda, J. and Baird, G. ‘Development of a building performance assessment and design tool for residential buildings in Nigeria’. Procedia Engineering, 2017 – iHBE2016 Conference, Sydney, Nov 2016.

Amasuomo, T.T. and Baird, G. ‘Combining traditional and contemporary building designs for residential housing in West Africa”. Proceedings of 7th International Conference on Energy and Environment of Residential Buildings, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Nov 2016.

Thompson, J, Donn, M. and Baird, G. ‘Utilising calibration to quality assure CFD models for predicting thermal comfort in naturally ventilated buildings designed for high occupancy’. Proceedings of 9th Windsor conference, April 2016, 361-372.

Baird, G., Marriage, G., Masters, B. and Dykes, C., ‘Aorangi House, Wellington – performance in practice of a refurbished office building’. IPENZ Transactions, Vol 42,1-11, April 2015.

Baird, G., Easton, L. and Bennett, A., (Eds), ‘Special Issue – Selected papers from “Building a Better New Zealand “ (BBNZ2014) conference’, Buildings, Vol 5, Nos 1 & 2, pp69-322, 2015.

Baird, G., ‘Introduction and Editorial to the Special Issue – Selected papers from “Building a Better New Zealand “ (BBNZ2014) conference’, Buildings, Vol 5, No 2, pp318-322, 2015.

Baird, G. 'User's perceptions of sustainable buildings - key findings of recent studies'. Renewable Energy, 73, 77 - 83, DOI: 10.1016/j.renene.2014.04.004, 2015.

Dykes, C. and Baird, G., 'A review of questionnaire based methods used for assessing and benchmarking indoor environmental quality'. Intellingent Buildings International, DOI: 10.1080/17508975.2013.783457, 2013.

Lenoir, A., Baird, G. and Garde, F., 'Post-occupancy evaluation and experimental feedback of a net zero-energy building in a tropical climate'. Architectural Science Review, Vol 55, No 3, 156 - 168, DOI: 10.1080/00038628.2012.702449, August 2012.

Baird, G., Leaman, A. and Thompson, J., ‘A comparison of the performance of sustainable buildings with conventional buildings from the point of view of the users’. Architectural Science Review, Vol 55, No 2, May 2012.

Baird, G. and Thompson, J., ‘Lighting conditions in sustainable buildings: results of a survey of users’ perceptions’, in Architectural Science Review, Vol 55, No 2, May 2012, 102-109.

Baird, G. and Field, C., ‘Thermal comfort conditions in sustainable buildings - results of a worldwide survey of users' perceptions', in Renewable Energy 49, (2012), 44 - 47, doi:10.1016/j.renene.2012.01.069.

Baird, G. and Dykes, C., ‘The potential for the use of occupants’ comments in the analysis and prediction of building performance’, in Buildings, 2012, 2, 33-47; doi:10.3390/buildings2010033.

Baird, G., 'Did that building feel good for you? Or - isn't it just as important to assess and benchmark user's perceptions of buildings as it is to audit their energy efficiency?', in Intelligent Buildings International , Vol. 3, No. 2, (2011), pp. 124-130, ISSN: 1750-8975, ISSN 1756-6932 (online).

Baird, G and Penwell, J., Designers’ Intentions versus Users’ Perceptions: a comparison of two refurbished office buildings.Intelligent Buildings International, DOI: 10.1080/17508975.2011.606360 - 23 Sept 2011, 1-19

Baird, G., Christie, L., Ferris, J., Goguel, C., Oosterhoff, H., 'User perceptions and feedback from the "best" sustainable buildings in the world', in Ecolibrium, Vol. 10, No. 5, June, (2011), pp. 30-37.

Baird, G., Oosterhoff, H., 'Users' Perceptions of Health and Productivity in Sustainable Buildings', in Environment Design Guide, Vol. 33, February, (2010), ISSN: 1442-5017.

Baird, G., 'The Erskine Building, Canterbury University, Christchurch - A Case Study of Building Performance', in Environment Design Guide, August, (2010), pp. 1-14.

Baird, G. and Dykes, C., ‘Acoustic conditions in sustainable buildings – results of a worldwide survey of users’ perceptions’. Journal of Building Acoustics, Vol 17, No 4. 291-304, 2010.

Baird, G., 'Incorporating User Performance Criteria into Building Sustainability Rating Tools (BSRTs) for Buildings in Operation', in Sustainability 2009, Vol. 1, No. 4, November, (2009), pp.1069-1086, ISSN: 2071-1050, doi:10.3390/su1041069.

Full list of George's Publications are available on the Wellington School of Architecture website