Modeling occupancy and behavior for better building design and operation—A critical review

Bing Dong, Da Yan, Zhaoxuan Li, Yuan Jin, Xiaohang Feng, Hannah Fontenot

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

149 Scopus citations


People spend more than 90% of their life time in buildings, which makes occupant behavior one of the leading influences of energy consumption in buildings. Occupancy and occupant behavior, which refer to human presence inside buildings and their active interactions with various building system such as lighting, heating, cooling, ventilation, window blinds, and plugs, attract great attention of research with regard to better building design and operation. Due to the stochastic nature of occupant behavior, prior occupancy models vary dramatically in terms of data sampling, spatial and temporal resolution. This paper provides a comprehensive review of the current modeling efforts of occupant behavior, summarizes occupancy models for various applications including building energy performance analysis, building architectural and engineering design, intelligent building operations and building safety design, and presents challenges and areas where future research could be undertaken. In addition, modeling requirement for different applications is analyzed. Furthermore, a few commonly used statistical and data mining models are presented. The purpose of this paper is to provide a modeling reference for future researchers so that a proper method or model can be selected for a specific research purpose.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)899-921
Number of pages23
JournalBuilding Simulation
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • design and operation
  • modeling methods
  • occupant behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Building and Construction
  • Energy (miscellaneous)


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