Design impacts both social and economic value to a community, but how do you measure and track it? The RIBA Social Value Toolkit has the answer. The Toolkit makes it easy to evaluate and demonstrate the impact of design on people and communities. A research project by the University of Reading provided the evidence for the Toolkit.
“If we cannot define what we mean by value, we cannot be sure to produce it, nor to share it fairly, nor to sustain economic growth.” (Mazzucato, 2018)
“Social value is created when buildings, places, and infrastructure support environmental, economic and social wellbeing to improve people’s quality of life.” (UK Green Building Council)
The underpinning concepts for the Toolkit are based in the wellbeing literature. Social value of architecture is in fostering positive emotions, connecting people, and in supporting participation. The Toolkit has two parts. A library of post occupancy evaluation questions, and a monetisation tool that links to other post occupancy evaluation processes.
Eilish Barry says that if we don’t define and measure the social impact of design, it will be pushed further down the priority list as costs rise. Generating social value is useful for potential future residents as well as designers and developers. Barry poses five recommendations for industry in her Fifth Estate article:
- Knowledege sharing is vital
- We need a common language
- Social value should be part of the design process
- Methodologies need to be flexible
- Opportunity for collaboration (Eilish Barry pictured)
The Social Value Toolkit
The library of questions means you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. They cover positive emotions, connecting, freedom and flexibility, and participation. Each of these has a monetary value attached.
The dimensions of social value in the built environment context.
The approach to monetising social outcomes is based on Social Return on Investment. There are several different ways to measure this.
- Value for money: Willingness to pay extra for something you value.
- Time is money: The value of savingtime.
- Subjective Wellbeing valuation: Putting a value on wellbeing – most appropriate to understanding the impact of design on end users.
The Toolkit references the Social Value Bank, an open access source that contains a series of values based on subjective wellbeing valuation.