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The role of occupants in buildings’ energy performance gap : myth or reality?

  • Mahdavi, Ardeshir
  • Berger, Christiane
  • Amin, Hadeer
  • Ampatzi, Eleni
  • Andersen, Rune Korsholm
  • Azar, Elie
  • Barthelmes, Verena M.
  • Favero, Matteo
  • Hahn, Jakob
  • Khovalyg, Dolaana
  • Knudsen, Henrik N.
  • Luna-Navarro, Alessandra
  • Roetzel, Astrid
  • Sangogboye, Fisayo C.
  • Schweiker, Marcel
  • Taheri, Mahnameh
  • Teli, Despoina
  • Touchie, Marianne
  • Verbruggen, Silke
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2021
DOI: 10.3390/su13063146
Ghent University Institutional Archive
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Buildings’ expected (projected, simulated) energy use frequently does not match actual observations. This is commonly referred to as the energy performance gap. As such, many factors can contribute to the disagreement between expectations and observations. These include, for instance, uncertainty about buildings’ geometry, construction, systems, and weather conditions. However, the role of occupants in the energy performance gap has recently attracted much attention. It has even been suggested that occupants are the main cause of the energy performance gap. This, in turn, has led to suggestions that better models of occupant behavior can reduce the energy performance gap. The present effort aims at the review and evaluation of the evidence for such claims. To this end, a systematic literature search was conducted and relevant publications were identified and reviewed in detail. The review entailed the categorization of the studies according to the scope and strength of the evidence for occupants’ role in the energy performance gap. Moreover, deployed calculation and monitoring methods, normalization procedures, and reported causes and magnitudes of the energy performance gap were documented and evaluated. The results suggest that the role of occupants as significant or exclusive contributors to the energy performance gap is not sufficiently substantiated by evidence.

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