Nationwide HVAC energy-saving potential quantification for office buildings with occupant-centric controls in various climates

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


The occupant-centric control (OCC) is receiving an increasing attention since it could reduce building heating ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system energy consumptions while not affecting the occupant thermal comfort. This paper aims to quantify the nationwide energy-saving potential of implementing the occupant-centric HVAC controls in typical office buildings. First, the medium office and large office from the Department of Energy (DOE) Commercial Prototype Building Models (CPBM) were enhanced to have detailed layouts and dynamic occupancy schedules. Then, a comprehensive simulation plan was created by incorporating the multiple zone-level and system-level occupant-centric building HVAC controls recommended by the updated ASHRAE Standard 90.1 – 2019 and ASHRAE Guideline 36 – 2018. Three control scenarios with different occupancy sensing methods were identified in this simulation plan. A nation-wide parametric analysis, which includes two building types, three occupancy sensing scenarios, two building code versions, and 16 U.S. climate zones, was carried out. The simulation results of the key control variables and HVAC energy consumption suggest that generally, both the occupancy presence sensor and occupant counting sensor could achieve energy savings for the office buildings in the majority of the scenarios. However, compared with the occupancy presence sensor, which could support both the temperature setpoint reset and operational breathing zone airflow rate reset for the unoccupied zones, the occupant counting sensor only brings a marginal benefit. Besides, a higher HVAC energy-saving ratio could be achieved in the heating-dominated zone, since the energy reduction brought with the minimum outdoor airflow rate reset is stronger in the heating mode.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number115727
JournalApplied Energy
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020


  • Demand-controlled ventilation
  • EnergyPlus
  • Large-scale simulation
  • Occupant-centric controls

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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