The impact of occupants' energy awareness and thermal preferences on buildings' performance
Keywords:Occupant behaviour, agent-based modelling, indoor environment
Recent research efforts in building performance simulation increasingly focus on the representation of people's behaviour (specifically, their interactions with buildings' control systems). In this context, the use of agent-based modelling (ABM) is suggested to be a promising approach, as it can capture, in principle, the complexity and dynamics of the patterns of individual occupants' presence and behaviour in buildings. The present contribution describes a related effort, whereby an agent-based model (generated using the NetLogo application) was coupled with a dynamic building simulation model to examine the impact of occupants' energy-related behaviour on buildings' energy performance. To this end, four user types were defined in the agent-based modelling environment. These occupant types were assumed to correspond to different energy awareness levels as well as different tolerance levels with regard to indoor-environmental conditions that are deemed to be desirable. The behavioural model is linked to the dynamic energy simulation tool EnergyPlus via co-simulation using the Building Control Virtual Test Bed tool and Python programming language. A case study object (specifically, six single-occupancy office spaces in an office building) was selected to simulate the impact of different occupant types on the building energy performance. The simulation results suggest that the awareness level of occupants regarding energy conservation issues can have significant influence on the computed energy performance of the case study building. Moreover, occupants' level of tolerance regarding deviations of indoor-environmental conditions from "optimal" settings, was likewise shown to influence energy use. Finally, the case study highlights existing usability challenges concerning co-simulation processes involving both ABM and performance simulation.
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