How can we measure the impact of a building? Speaking to the people who live, work, learn and play there is a starting point – but what if we want to get a sense of scale, and compare the impact of one building with another?
Social return on investment – SROI for short – is one possible answer to this question. It’s one of the most popular and rigorous ways of measuring social value, but it’s rarely been tested on building projects. We set out to discover whether SROI could help us better understand our impact on the world, using the Laidlaw Library as a case study for the research.
Completed in 2015, the Laidlaw Library is an undergraduate library for the University of Leeds that won several awards after opening, including an RIBA National Award. Returning to it seven years later allowed us to see whether it had stood the test of time, speaking to staff and students about how it felt to work and study in the building. We’re now pleased to publish the results of that research, along with some wider recommendations for measuring social value, designing inclusive spaces, and evaluating a project’s success.