Quality Is Measurable

Backgrounder 5 - Evaluation

La qualité ça se mesure

Have you set your quality targets? Are they observable and measurable? Have you established when and how the team will monitor them to make sure the project is moving in the right direction? This backgrounder helps you clarify your quality objectives and outlines methods and tips for monitoring quality continuously; that is, not only checking it when the project is delivered, but before and even afterward—because quality is something to be cultivated over the long term. 

The Compass Quality Vision exercise is a prerequisite for defining your project’s quality targets. The quality monitoring plan is established in a subsequent step.

Key Takeaways

Key Takeaways

Evaluating quality requires: 

  • Clear targets and indicators, defined in the project program;
  • A plan for sustaining quality over the full life cycle of the project;
  • A process for continuous tracking of the planned and actual project benefits;
  • If necessary, reframing strategies to optimize the project benefits.
Quality Is Stated in the Program

Quality Is Stated in the Program

The quality targets and indicators are core aspects of the project. They specify the nature and scope of its expected benefits for the surrounding community and, as such, must be outlined in the program itself. This crucial step cannot be neglected, because the ensuing design, execution and operation stages of the project will contribute to its implementation and continued attainment of the strategic targets. 

Quality Is Measurable

Quality Is Measurable

Your goal might be to implement a project that is exemplary for its reuse of existing assets and materials. Or one that contributes to the area’s prosperity. Or one that delivers innovative solutions for coexistence among diverse communities. Or all of these things. More concretely, though, you need to plan how those benefits will be observed and measured. This section refers to the six dimensions of quality in the Toolkit and provides examples of targets that are observable and measurable over a given period, to inspire team members and help them clarify their quality targets. Stay focused on establishing realistic targets: every small action counts when the goal is to elevate standards! Also, in defining your targets, don’t hesitate to consider how they will evolve over time so that the exercise remains doable and positive for your team members. 


How and to what extent can your project leverage design to contribute to increased urban resilience?

By mitigating the impacts of climate-related hazards 

  • Improving thermal performance (kWh/year in cooling or heating)
  • Increasing natural rainwater catchment capacity (m3/month)

By facilitating emergency or crisis-response actions

  • Providing more effective emergency signage and evacuation routes (time to evacuate)
  • Making more emergency apparatus or equipment available (no. of units) 

By minimizing requirements in terms of essential resources and services

  • Improving the project’s energy autonomy (kWh/m2/year)
  • Improving the project’s water autonomy (m3/year)
  • Improving circularity of organic resources (t CO2e/year)

By mitigating the impacts of industrial hazards

  • Improving ventilation performance (mair/second)
  • Increasing the area of safe spaces available in an emergency (sq ft)

By ensuring methods for rapid repurposing

  • Increasing the area of flexible and adaptable spaces (sq ft)
  • Improving the building’s adaptive and accommodation capacity in the event of a crisis situation (sq ft)
  • Increasing demounting and modularity capacity (score in %)

How and to what extent can your project leverage design to helpmeet environmental challenges?

By contributing to achievement of carbon neutrality objectives

  • Reducing embodied carbon emissions (t CO2e/m2)
  • Reducing operational carbon emissions (t CO2e/year)

By making responsible use of resources

  • Increasing the reuse of existing materials or buildings (score in %)
  • Generating less waste (t/year)

By contributing to the richness of natural environments

  • Reducing the project’s ground footprint (sq ft)
  • Increasing horizontal and vertical greening (sq ft) 
  • Increasing the variety of flora (no. of species)

By making responsible use of resources

  • Increasing the reuse of existing materials or buildings (score in %)
  • Generating less waste (t/year)

By reducing environmental impacts over the full life cycle of the project 

  • Extending the life cycle of construction materials, equipment and systems (no. of years) 
  • Increasing networking and symbioses (sharing and reuse score, in %)

How and to what extent can your project leverage design to foster greater economic benefits?

By contributing to the neighbourhood’s prosperity

  • Increasing local supply (length of supply circuit, in km)
  • Boosting consumer spend in the neighbourhood ($/consumer/year) 
  • Diversifying options for entrepreneurial and/or community synergies (sq ft reserved for start-ups and community groups)

By enhancing the neighbourhood’s attractiveness

  • Increasing the diversity of retailers and service providers in the neighbourhood (typologies, floor areas, supply and number of commercial establishments)
  • Promoting retention of consumers in the neighbourhood (no. of consumers/year) 

By taking a life-cycle approach to cost-benefit analysis

  • Improving the performance of the project over its full life cycle (ROI/year)
  • Improving the productivity of the project over its full life cycle (ratio/year)

By remaining trend-proof

  • Maintaining stable footfall over the medium to long term (no. of customers/year or annual sales) 
  • Maintaining user satisfaction over the medium to long term (annual score, in %)

By providing opportunities for pooling of resources

  • Increasing the amount of shared indoor or outdoor surface areas ($/sq ft/year)
  • Increasing the number of shared equipment ($/piece of equipment/year)
  • Increasing resource networking and symbiosis ($/year)

By incorporating energy-efficient technologies

  • Increasing passive-energy production capacity(ROI/year) 
  • Increasing passive-energy transformation and reuse capacity (ROI/year)
  • Increasing passive-energy storage capacity (ROI/year)
  • Increasing automated systems efficiency (ROI/year)

By emphasizing common spaces and services of quality 

  • Improving the value of leases ($/year) 
  • Improving the value of goods and services ($/users/year)

How and to what extent can your project leverage design to help value culture more?

By recognizing, protecting and valuing the site’s history

  • Highlighting the original façade (sq ft restored) 
  • Highlighting a heritage remnant (no. of visitors/year)
  • Commemorating an event (no. of visitors/year)

By integrating sensitively with the site context 

  • In terms of its visual features (appreciation by neighbourhood residents score, in %)
  • In terms of its uses and services (appreciation by neighbourhood residents score, in %)

By encouraging rich and diverse cultural and artistic life 

  • Dedicating spaces in the project for gathering, exchange and creation (sq ft)
  • Including spaces that stimulate collective enthusiasm for culture (no. of visitors/year) 

By enhancing the lived experience

  • Highlighting specifically seasonal, time- or space-based features (initiatives appreciation score, in %)
Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

How and to what extent can your project leverage design to furtherequity, diversity and inclusion?

By responding to user needs equitably

  • Ensuring a more culturally diverse user community (no. of users/year)
  • Ensuring a more sociodemographically diverse user community (no. of users/year)

By contributing to a sense of shared identity

  • Increasing user participation (no. of users/event or service/year)
  • Increasing use frequency and user retention (no. and length of visits/user/year)

By developing modes of co-existence

  • Promoting options for community networking (no. and diversity of groups using the project site and amenities/year)
  • Promoting options for intergenerational and socioeconomic networking (no. and diversity of households using the project site and amenities/year)

By making the site accessible to as many people as possible

  • Maximizing accessibility of the project sites for mobility-impaired users (solutions appreciation score, in %)
  • Diversifying mobility options in the vicinity of the project (variety and no. of devices/systems favouring mobility)

By improving the dynamics of Living Together

  • Ensuring cultural safety initiatives for historically marginalized communities (no. of users from marginalized communities/year)
  • Ensuring the arts and literature content of the project is a vehicle for art education / cultural mediation (no. of artists involved/year)
Health and Wellness

How and to what extent can your project leverage design to helpimprove the health and wellness of users and communities?

By taking an interest in users’ emotional wellness

  • Incorporating biophilic design elements (no. of plants, natural materials score, in %)
  • Incorporating design features that encourage both individuals and groups to embrace the site (appreciation score, in %)

By reducing health and safety hazards

  • Reducing use of toxic materials and substances (toxicity incidence, in %)
  • Maximizing indoor air quality (IAQ index)

By contributing to users’ fulfilment

  • Providing spaces and services that make users feel welcome and at home (appreciation score, in %)
  • Providing a program of involvement and learning opportunities (no. of involvement opportunities/year)

By taking an interest in users’ physical wellness

  • Providing active travel options within the project spaces (use of active routes score, in %)
  • Ensuring optimum thermal comfort of the project spaces (comfort score, in %)

By providing safe sites and facilities

  • Limiting user vulnerability to perceived and real safety risk (no. and diversity of users who feel safe)
  • Limiting user vulnerability to perceived and real risk of mischief and crime (no. and diversity of users who feel safe)
  • Limiting user vulnerability to perceived and real risk of accident or injury (no. and diversity of users who feel safe)
Quality Evaluation Is an Ongoing Process

Quality Evaluation Is an Ongoing Process

The process of quality monitoring and tracking is defined in the program and is ongoing throughout the full project life cycle, from a perspective of continuous improvement. Read on for methods and tips to help ensure efficient tracking from the conceptual stages through to the post-occupancy phase of your project. 

During the conceptual stages

Qualitative monitoring of a project begins in the earliest conceptual stages. Checkpoints can be identified by assigning members of the project team (e.g., during the integrated design process) or by engaging external experts (e.g., by setting up a design panel). Using the measurable targets stated in the project program, the participants perform a critical analysis of the project at a given stage of progress and make design recommendations that will ensure greater quality. Quality Monitoring during the conceptual stages also provides the opportunity to ensure achievement of quantifiable objectives (e.g., as part of the value engineering process).

During the post-occupancy phase

Quality monitoring continues during the post-occupancy phase. At this stage, the purpose of monitoring is to validate project quality in typical occupancy and use conditions. Different data collection and analysis methods can be used depending on the metric in question (e.g., observation and characterization of goods, services or user behaviour in the space). The objective remains to achieve, maintain or improve on the project's quality targets. Post-occupancy monitoring of quality should be carried out continuously at different points in the project life cycle to ensure that quality is sustained.Strategies for communication and dissemination of learnings should be planned to ensure that quality benefits as many people as possible. 

Quality Must Be Sustained

Quality Must Be Sustained

For each project, map out a quality monitoring plan that contains measurable targets and states the recommended tracking methodology. You can use the template we’ve provided as a framework. 

Download the template and draw up your quality monitoring plan, step by step.