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The Role of Occupants in Buildings’ Energy Performance Gap: Myth or Reality?

Department of Building Physics and Building Ecology, TU Wien, 1040 Vienna, Austria
Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University, Bute Building, King Edward VII Ave., Cardiff CF10 3NB, UK
Department of Civil Engineering, Technical University of Denmark, 2800 Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark
Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Khalifa University of Science and Technology, Abu Dhabi 127788, United Arab Emirates
Thermal Engineering for the Built Environment Laboratory (TEBEL), École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Passage du Cardinal 13B, 1700 Fribourg, Switzerland
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, 7491 Trondheim, Norway
Research Institute CENERGIE—Center for Energy Efficient Buildings and Districts, Department 05: Building Services Engineering, Munich University of Applied Sciences, Lothstr. 34, 80335 Munich, Germany
Division of Sustainability, Energy and Indoor Environment, Department of the Built Environment, Aalborg University, A. C. Meyers Vænge 15, 2450 Copenhagen, Denmark
Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 1PZ, UK
School of Architecture and Built Environment, Deakin University, Geelong, VIC 3220, Australia
Software Engineering Section, Mærsk Mckinney Møller Institute, University of Southern Denmark, 5230 Odense, Denmark
Institute for Occupational, Social and Environmental Medicine, Medical Faculty, RWTH Aachen University, 52074 Aachen, Germany
Arbnco Ltd., Glasgow G1 1RD, UK
Division of Building Services Engineering, Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology, SE-412 96 Göteborg, Sweden
Department of Civil and Mineral Engineering, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5S 1A4, Canada
Research Group Building Physics, Department of Architecture and Urban Planning, Ghent University, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Antonio Caggiano and Francesco Leccese
Sustainability 2021, 13(6), 3146;
Received: 22 January 2021 / Revised: 25 February 2021 / Accepted: 9 March 2021 / Published: 12 March 2021
Buildings’ expected (projected, simulated) energy use frequently does not match actual observations. This is commonly referred to as the energy performance gap. As such, many factors can contribute to the disagreement between expectations and observations. These include, for instance, uncertainty about buildings’ geometry, construction, systems, and weather conditions. However, the role of occupants in the energy performance gap has recently attracted much attention. It has even been suggested that occupants are the main cause of the energy performance gap. This, in turn, has led to suggestions that better models of occupant behavior can reduce the energy performance gap. The present effort aims at the review and evaluation of the evidence for such claims. To this end, a systematic literature search was conducted and relevant publications were identified and reviewed in detail. The review entailed the categorization of the studies according to the scope and strength of the evidence for occupants’ role in the energy performance gap. Moreover, deployed calculation and monitoring methods, normalization procedures, and reported causes and magnitudes of the energy performance gap were documented and evaluated. The results suggest that the role of occupants as significant or exclusive contributors to the energy performance gap is not sufficiently substantiated by evidence. View Full-Text
Keywords: buildings; performance gap; energy; occupant behavior buildings; performance gap; energy; occupant behavior
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MDPI and ACS Style

Mahdavi, A.; Berger, C.; Amin, H.; Ampatzi, E.; Andersen, R.K.; Azar, E.; Barthelmes, V.M.; Favero, M.; Hahn, J.; Khovalyg, D.; Knudsen, H.N.; Luna-Navarro, A.; Roetzel, A.; Sangogboye, F.C.; Schweiker, M.; Taheri, M.; Teli, D.; Touchie, M.; Verbruggen, S. The Role of Occupants in Buildings’ Energy Performance Gap: Myth or Reality? Sustainability 2021, 13, 3146.

AMA Style

Mahdavi A, Berger C, Amin H, Ampatzi E, Andersen RK, Azar E, Barthelmes VM, Favero M, Hahn J, Khovalyg D, Knudsen HN, Luna-Navarro A, Roetzel A, Sangogboye FC, Schweiker M, Taheri M, Teli D, Touchie M, Verbruggen S. The Role of Occupants in Buildings’ Energy Performance Gap: Myth or Reality? Sustainability. 2021; 13(6):3146.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Mahdavi, Ardeshir, Christiane Berger, Hadeer Amin, Eleni Ampatzi, Rune K. Andersen, Elie Azar, Verena M. Barthelmes, Matteo Favero, Jakob Hahn, Dolaana Khovalyg, Henrik N. Knudsen, Alessandra Luna-Navarro, Astrid Roetzel, Fisayo C. Sangogboye, Marcel Schweiker, Mahnameh Taheri, Despoina Teli, Marianne Touchie, and Silke Verbruggen. 2021. "The Role of Occupants in Buildings’ Energy Performance Gap: Myth or Reality?" Sustainability 13, no. 6: 3146.

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