Applying Social Return on Investment (SROI) to the built environment

Kelly Watson, Tim Whitley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The effective measurement and dissemination of the impact of design on
building users requires an evaluative shift away from measuring building
performance towards measuring the outcomes experienced by people. This
agenda shares considerable overlap with the emerging concept of “social
value” and it is proposed that social impact valuation methodologies could
fill the post-occupancy quantification gap. A review of the social impact
sector identifies Social Return on Investment (SROI) as the most
developed methodology with a robust framework for implementation. SROI
generates monetised results, anticipated to enhance transferability
compared to typical post-occupancy evaluation summaries and facilitate
the dissemination and usefulness of findings within the design and
construction industry. The paper gives an in-depth account of an
exploratory study to trial the six stage SROI methodology in three
nonclinical healthcare buildings, involving interviews, focus groups, user
surveys and financial valuation techniques. The SROI results are
summarised and the discussion provides a critical methodological reflection
of applying SROI to the built environment: the technical challenges faced,
the modifications made as a result, and the lessons learnt from this
process. The conclusion offers some practical recommendations for future
applications of SROI to the built environment
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages18
JournalBuilding Research and Information
Early online date12 Sept 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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