It is well-documented that prodigious amounts of energy and money have been saved by energy-efficient building technologies. California alone has saved billions of dollars, prevented tons of pollutants, and avoided having to build additional power plants thanks to its efficiency efforts. Still, the effectiveness of these technologies is dependent on building occupants not only using them, but using them properly. How much of an effect occupant behavior has on energy savings is uncertain, but most researchers agree that it is significant. More than 20 groups worldwide study building occupant behavior, but experimental design and modeling methodologies differ, and many studies lack detailed quantitative analyses.
In recognition of this problem, the IEA (International Energy Agency) Energy in Buildings and Communities (EBC) Programme approved the Annex 66 project at its Executive Committee Meeting in 2013. The project will establish a standard occupant behavior definition platform and a quantitative simulation methodology to use to model occupant behavior in buildings. This standardization will make studies easier to compare and give researchers a deeper understanding of occupant behavior on energy use and the indoor environment.
The Annex 66 project has five subtasks:
- occupant movement and presence models
- occupant action models in residential buildings
- occupant action models in commercial buildings
- integration of occupant behavior definition and models with current building energy modeling programs
- applications in building design and operations
Environmental Energy Technologies Division researcher Tianzhen Hong and Da Yan from Tsinghua University, China, are the operating agents for Annex 66. They manage the work of the various participants and supervise the production, financing, and availability of Annex 66 products. Hong is also subtask leader for Subtask D, and will work to integrate that work with the current modeling programs.
At this writing, 56 organizations in 23 countries have expressed strong interesting in participating in the project, which began in November 2013. This preparation phase will continue until October 2014, when its working phase will begin and last for two years. Project results will be reported in 2017.
“To achieve significant carbon reductions and mitigate global climate change, it’s necessary to have a deep understanding of occupant energy behavior in buildings,” says Hong. “Being able to model and quantify how behavior impacts the use of building technologies and building energy performance using scientific methods is crucial to the design and operation of low-energy buildings.”