Frontiers in Civil Engineering

Frontiers in Civil Engineering

Volume: 6

Occupant Behaviour in Buildings: Advances and Challenges

Occupant behaviour in buildings is a point of interest for building designers around the world. Functional buildings have a significant energy demand; therefore, improving the thermal and energy ...
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Investigating the Uncertainties of Occupant Behaviour in Building Performance Simulation: A Case Study in Dwellings in Brazil

Pp. 213-274 (62)

DOI: 10.2174/9781681088327121060009

Author(s): Arthur Santos Silva*


The literature states that the occupancy and related operational characteristics in buildings are key variables that cause the gap between the estimate and actual thermal and energy performance. To address such issue, the objective of this study is to investigate the uncertainties of occupant behaviour in building performance simulation through a probabilistic approach. This case study considers a model of a low-income dwelling in southern Brazil using five different construction for the envelope and with natural or hybrid ventilation. Field survey provided a dataset of uncertainties of the occupant behaviour, which was related to the occupancy of the rooms, operation of openings and use of electric appliances. The EnergyPlus programme was used to conduct the simulations and the R Studio was used for data processing, analysis, and treatment. A global sensitivity analysis was performed, along with an uncertainty analysis. The results showed that the number of occupants, the schedules of occupancy of the bedrooms, the setpoint temperatures for operating the openings, the cooling setpoint of the HVAC and the limits for operative temperatures of the rooms were the most influent variables for the thermal and energy performance, especially in the heating period. The uncertainty was up to 65.6% for estimating the degree-hours for heating (in the natural ventilation mode) and up to 59.3% for estimating the total electricity consumption with HVAC (in the hybrid ventilation mode), indicating that these operational uncertainties had a great impact in the simulation results.


Building simulation, EnergyPlus, Energy consumption, Global sensitivity, Operational uncertainty, Performance evaluation, Sensitivity analysis, Sobol’ indices, Thermal performance, User behaviour, Uncertainty analysis.