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Advancing international research in building occupancy behaviour

February 18, 2014 - Bing Dong—a mechanical engineering assistant professor with the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA)—has been invited to lead an International Energy Agency (IEA) study that aims to set an international standard for measuring energy-related occupant behaviour in buildings.


February 18, 2014
By Anthony Capkun

Adjusting the thermostat, switching lights On/Off, opening and closing windows, pulling up and down window blinds and moving between spaces are all energy-related occupant behaviours that impact the amount of energy a building uses.

According to IEA, different groups from all over the world are conducting occupant behaviour research; however, to date, the researchers have not used a common occupancy behaviour model, which causes their results to vary greatly. The IEA project aims to being leading researchers together to define and simulate occupant behaviour in a consistent, standard fashion.

“I feel very proud to be leading this project because it involves many top universities from across the world,” said Dong.

With funding from the UTSA Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute at UTSA, Dong and his team will lead the project’s first research objective: to provide a standard definition and simulation methodology for occupant movement within buildings.

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Using a network of infrared sensors that detect movement coupled with sensors that monitor energy consumption, Dong has developed software that captures and transfers information every five minutes into a database. The database allows him to see patterns in energy consumption in commercial and residential buildings. His test beds will include one wing of the Applied Engineering and Technology building on the UTSA main campus and four residential houses in West San Antonio designed for low-income residents.

Dong’s model of tracking and measuring occupant movement will be used as the standard by which the other participating groups in the IEA project conduct their research over the next four years. In the end, this collaboration will create an international standard for measuring occupancy behaviour as it relates to building energy efficiency.