Simulation and visualization of energy-related occupant behavior in office buildings

TitleSimulation and visualization of energy-related occupant behavior in office buildings
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsYixing Chen, Xin Liang, Tianzhen Hong, Xuan Luo
JournalBuilding Simulation
KeywordsBehavior Modeling, building performance, building simulation, energyplus, occupant behavior, visualization

In current building performance simulation programs, occupant presence and interactions with building systems are over-simplified and less indicative of real world scenarios, contributing to the discrepancies between simulated and actual energy use in buildings. Simulation results are normally presented using various types of charts. However, using those charts, it is difficult to visualize and communicate the importance of occupants’ behavior to building energy performance. This study introduced a new approach to simulating and visualizing energy-related occupant behavior in office buildings. First, the Occupancy Simulator was used to simulate the occupant presence and movement and generate occupant schedules for each space as well as for each occupant. Then an occupant behavior functional mockup unit (obFMU) was used to model occupant behavior and analyze their impact on building energy use through co-simulation with EnergyPlus. Finally, an agent-based model built upon AnyLogic was applied to visualize the simulation results of the occupant movement and interactions with building systems, as well as the related energy performance. A case study using a small office building in Miami, FL was presented to demonstrate the process and application of the Occupancy Simulator, the obFMU and EnergyPlus, and the AnyLogic module in simulation and visualization of energy-related occupant behaviors in office buildings. The presented approach provides a new detailed and visual way for policy makers, architects, engineers and building operators to better understand occupant energy behavior and their impact on energy use in buildings, which can improve the design and operation of low energy buildings.