From occupants to occupants: A review of the occupant information understanding for building HVAC occupant-centric control

Tao Yang, Arkasama Bandyopadhyay, Zheng O’Neill, Jin Wen, Bing Dong

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Occupants are the core of the built environment. Traditional heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems operate with predefined schedules and maximum occupancy assumptions with no consideration of specific occupant information. These generalized assumptions usually do not align with the actual demand and result in over-conditioning and occupant discomfort. In recent years, with the aid of Information & Communication Technology (ICT) and Computer Science (CS), it is possible to acquire real-time and accurate occupant information to satisfy the exact thermal requirement through specific HVAC control in one particular built environment. This mechanism is called HVAC “Occupant-centric Control (OCC).” HVAC OCC strategy starts with collecting the occupant’s information (e.g., presence/absence) and then applies it to meet the occupant’s requirement (e.g., thermal comfort). However, even though some research studies and field pilot demonstrations have been devoted to the field of OCC, there is a lack of systematic knowledge about occupant data, which is the principal component of OCC for HVAC researchers and practitioners. To fill this gap, this review paper discusses OCC with a particular emphasis on occupant information and investigates how this information can assist HVAC operation in providing an acceptable built environment in required spaces during the required time. We provide a fine-grained, comprehensive picture of occupant information, discuss its features, the modalities of information feed-in into the HVAC control, and the application of commonly utilized occupant information for OCC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)913-932
Number of pages20
JournalBuilding Simulation
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • HVAC
  • energy efficiency
  • occupant information
  • occupant-centric control
  • smart building

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Building and Construction
  • Energy (miscellaneous)


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