Adopting occupancy-based HVAC controls in commercial building energy codes: Analysis of cost-effectiveness and decarbonization potential

Zhihong Pang, Zheng O'Neill, Yan Chen, Jian Zhang, Hwakong Cheng, Bing Dong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Recent research has shown the energy-saving potential of occupancy-based HVAC controls (OBCs) in commercial buildings. However, building energy codes have not fully adopted this technology. This study aims to evaluate the cost-effectiveness and decarbonization benefits of OBCs and provide guidance for integrating occupancy sensors into building energy code development. To this end, a parametric simulation using EnergyPlus and a nationwide cost-effectiveness analysis are carried out considering three building types and 40 representative cities in the U.S. The findings reveal that the current cost-effectiveness performance of OBCs is limited due to the high cost of occupancy sensors. However, incorporating the societal cost of carbon factor in future energy and environmental policy could greatly enhance the actual cost-effectiveness performance. Besides, a reduction in the cost of occupancy sensors to approximately 60% of the current price level could also greatly shorten the discounted payback period of OBCs. Additionally, OBCs demonstrate significant potential in building decarbonization, with potential CO2 emissions savings of more than 5.56 million metric tons across the three building types and 40 selected cities. Finally, policy implications are provided to guide the incorporation of occupancy-based HVAC controls in future energy codes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number121594
JournalApplied Energy
Volume349
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2023

Keywords

  • Building energy code
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Decarbonization
  • Occupancy sensor
  • Occupancy-based control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Building and Construction
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • General Energy
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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