Paper Conference

Proceedings of Building Simulation 2021: 17th Conference of IBPSA


How do buildings adapt to changing occupancy? A natural experiment

Brodie W. Hobson 1, Tareq Abuimara 1, H. Burak Gunay 1, Guy R. Newsham 2
1 Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Carleton University
2 Construction Research Centre, National Research Council Canada

Abstract: Most office buildings regulate their indoor climate through conservative setpoints and schedules based on maximum occupancy. However, the occupancy of most office buildings rarely exceeds 50%. Buildings’ lack of adaptability to partial occupancy exacts a toll on their energy use by providing building services excessively and inefficiently. Largely vacant office buildings left in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic present a natural experiment to evaluate the extent of this problem. Threeparameter univariate changepoint models were employed to estimate the change in energy use before and during the pandemic in two institutional office buildings: one with occupancy-based ventilation, and one with traditional ventilation. A calibrated energy model was developed for the traditional building to determine how much energy could have been saved if occupancy-based ventilation was implemented. It was found that the building could have saved up to 32% and 12% for heating and cooling, respectively, in the pre-pandemic period alone.
Keywords: occupancy, building operations, occupancy-centric control, building automation systems, HVAC
Pages: 3465 - 3472