Modeling Occupants for Better Buildings

Date of Recording:
Long Description

As we all know, occupants are modeled in very simple ways in building simulation environments. This comes with two risks: 1) inaccurate predictions, and 2) poor decision-making that is informed by these inaccurate predictions. A third, more philosophical, risk is that the current schedule-based occupant modeling methods are inherently dehumanizing, thus allowing modelers to forget about the very users for which buildings are designed and operated.

This Research Committee webinar will provide an overview of the fundamentals, challenges, possible solutions, and future research needs of occupant modeling to support building design and operation. It will use specific examples from both Prof. O’Brien’s research team and that of International Energy Agency/Energy in Buildings and Communities Annex 79: Occupant-Centric Building Design and Operation.


Liam O’Brien, Ph.D., P.Eng. is an Associate Professor for Carleton University’s Architectural Conservation and Sustainability Engineering program in Ottawa, Canada. He is the principal investigator of the Human Building Interaction Lab, which consists of a team of 12 researchers with diverse backgrounds in engineering, architecture, and psychology. His team is developing occupant-centric design processes, building code, and controls for high-performance buildings. He has authored over 130 publications and two books on this topic. He is the co-Operating Agent of IEA EBC Annex 79: Occupant-Centric Building Design and Operation and the past president of the Canadian chapter of IBPSA-Canada.

occupant modeling, research committee, building simulation