Energy intelligent buildings based on user activity: A survey

Tuan Anh Nguyen*, Marco Aiello

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

577 Citations (Scopus)


Occupant presence and behaviour in buildings has been shown to have large impact on heating, cooling and ventilation demand, energy consumption of lighting and appliances, and building controls. Energy-unaware behaviour can add one-third to a building's designed energy performance. Consequently, user activity and behaviour is considered as a key element and has long been used for control of various devices such as artificial light, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. However, how are user activity and behaviour taken into account? What are the most valuable activities or behaviours and what is their impact on energy saving potential? In order to answer these questions, we provide a novel survey of prominent international intelligent buildings research efforts with the theme of energy saving and user activity recognition. We devise new metrics to compare the existing studies. Through the survey, we determine the most valuable activities and behaviours and their impact on energy saving potential for each of the three main subsystems, i.e., HVAC, light, and plug loads. The most promising and appropriate activity recognition technologies and approaches are discussed thus allowing us to conclude with principles and perspectives for energy intelligent buildings based on user activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)244-257
Number of pages14
JournalEnergy and Buildings
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Activity recognition
  • Building automation
  • Energy awareness


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