HVAC energy savings, thermal comfort and air quality for occupant-centric control through a side-by-side experimental study

Meng Kong, Bing Dong, Rongpeng Zhang, Zheng O'Neill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Building sensing technologies have evolved rapidly in the last two decades in aid of monitoring building environment and energy system performance. A series of occupancy sensing systems were developed to track the occupant behavior in the indoor space. Occupancy-based building system control is defined as a control method that adjusts the building system operation schedules and setpoints based on the measured occupant behavior and has been identified as a smart building control strategy that can improve building energy efficiency as well as occupant comfort. Some studies demonstrated energy-saving potential and comfort-maintaining capability from occupancy-based control. This study adopted a first-of-its-kind side-by-side experimental approach to quantify the performance of the occupancy-based control in commercial buildings. Three state-of-the-art occupancy sensing technologies were integrated into the real-time Heating, Ventilation, and Air-Conditioning (HVAC) system control in this study. Their detection accuracy and its effectiveness on energy-saving and thermal comfort were analyzed. It was found that the occupancy-based control can maintain good thermal comfort and perceived indoor air quality with a satisfaction ratio greater than 80%. Although the daily energy-saving varied with occupancy sensor accuracy and outdoor environment conditions, the weekly averaged energy saving was between 17 and 24%.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number117987
JournalApplied Energy
StatePublished - Jan 15 2022


  • Energy savings
  • Indoor air quality
  • Occupancy sensing
  • Occupancy-based control
  • Side-by-side experiment
  • Thermal comfort

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


Dive into the research topics of 'HVAC energy savings, thermal comfort and air quality for occupant-centric control through a side-by-side experimental study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this