Using real occupancy in retrofit decision-making: reducing the performance gap in low utilisation higher education buildings

Stephen Oliver, Saleh Seyedzadeh, Farzad Pour Rahimian

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

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Retrofit analysis relies on intuition and faith in the simulations used to justify strategy selection. However, intuition is built upon belief systems which become increasing unjustifiable as building operation deviates from design whether in utilisation, occupant behaviours or climate models. Higher education facilities are known for persistently low but well recorded occupant presence and density, and therefore are susceptible to counterintuitive behaviours related to utilisation. When operation has little correlation with design it is possible for performance issues to appear to be symptoms of design considerations rather than direct root of the issue. Using an EnergyPlus and SBEM virtual case study based on a floor of a university building and class registration data this paper describes how lighting retrofit simulation alludes to intuitive thermal property and HVAC efficiency concerns where heating management is the primary cause for concern. In doing so, it demonstrates a new approach to scheduling utilisation in higher education facilities and a method of meaningfully modelling BMS systems in EnergyPlus as replacement for the efficiency credits method. Results are discussed in terms of relevance to legislative compliance, cost-benefit analysis and how the scheduling methods contribute to intuitive analysis of low utilisation buildings.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 18 Sep 2019
Event36th CIB W78 2019 Conference - Northumbria University, Newcastle, United Kingdom
Duration: 18 Sep 201920 Sep 2019
Conference number: 36


Conference36th CIB W78 2019 Conference
Abbreviated titleCIB W78
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • retrofit analysis
  • occupancy
  • compliance
  • low utilisation


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