George Baird

Emeritus Professor - Building Science School of Architecture

Research interests

Specialist in building environmental science and services, and energy efficient design and operation of sustainable buildings. Research interest in building performance generally, with focus on the users’ perceptions of commercial and institutional buildings. In depth knowledge of the performance of buildings: energy performance, environmental performance, thermal comfort, indoor air quality, heating ventilating and air conditioning systems; plus the users’ perceptions of these.

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Prof Baird is no longer accepting new postgraduate candidates.



Research interests

My research interests fall into six 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
  • low energy design and operation–of commercial and institutional buildings
  • internal environments of buildings–thermal, air quality, acoustic and lighting conditions in practice
  • sustainable and regenerative systems–their application in building design and retrofit.

Research projects

I am involved in four major research projects:

  • case studies investigating the principles and practices of low energy and environmentally sustainable design
  • field studies of building occupants perceptions on facilities
  • analysis of the performance of sustainable buildings
  • development of user performance benchmarks in sustainability rating tools for buildings in operation.

During the research for my most recent book Sustainable Buildings in Practice (Routledge, 2010) I undertook over 30 worldwide case study investigation into the principles and practice of low energy and environmentally sustainable building design, together with field studies of 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 would 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 is providing a rich source of material for further investigation. My intent is to build on this platform with research that will establish an independent and statistically valid set of user-related performance benchmarks for commercial and institutional buildings - a world first and a yardstick by which to assess this vital aspect of building performance.

Research partnerships and collaborative work

Chongqing University

Appointed as Visiting Professor 2014 - 2016 at the National Centre for International Research of Low-Carbon and Green buildings under the Sustainable Built Environment Design and Management Program.

Fostering collaboration in research and teaching under a memorandum of understanding between the centre and the school.

Selected publications

Major books

Energy Performance of BuildingsSustainable Buildings in PracticeBuilding Evaluation Techniques

Left: The Architectural Expression of Environmental Control Systems (Spon Press, London, 2001) . Second Left: Energy Performance of Buildings (CRC Press, Boca Raton, 1984).

Sustainable Buildings in Practice – What the users think. (Routledge, Abingdon, 2010)

(Also available in simplified Chinese. Published by Routledge and China Architecture and Building Press, Shanghai, 2013.)

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.

This book 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.

Building Evaluation Techniques (McGraw Hill, New York, 1996)From environmental compliance to energy performance, the need for buildings to be monitored is ever growing. Here, at last, is 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. Building Evaluation Techniques, by George Baird et al, begins by showing you 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.

This book deals with the concerns of everyone involved with the use of energy in buildings. It is written principally for those with a direct professional interest in the energy performance of 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 Victoria University of Wellington’s 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

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 School of Architecture website