An Ontology to Represent Energy-related Occupant Behavior in Buildings Part I: Introduction to the DNAs Framework

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Journal Article

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Reducing energy consumption in the buildings sector requires significant changes, but technology alone may fail to guarantee efficient energy performance. Human behavior plays a pivotal role in building design, operation, management and retrofit, and is a crucial positive factor for improving the indoor environment, while reducing energy use at low cost. Over the past 40 years, a substantial body of literature has explored the impacts of human behavior on building technologies and operation. Often, need-action-event cognitive theoretical frameworks were used to represent human-machine interactions. In Part I of this paper a review of more than 130 published behavioral studies and frameworks was conducted. A large variety of data-driven behavioral models have been developed based on field monitoring of the human-building-system interaction. Studies have emerged scattered geographically around the world that lack in standardization and consistency, thus leading to difficulties when comparing one with another. To address this problem, an ontology to represent energy-related occupant behavior in buildings is presented. Accordingly, the technical DNAs framework is developed based on four key components: i) the Drivers of behavior, ii) the Needs of the occupants, iii) the Actions carried out by the occupants, and iv) the building systems acted upon by the occupants. This DNAs framework is envisioned to support the international research community to standardize a systematic representation of energy-related occupant behavior in buildings. Part II of this paper further develops the DNAs framework as an XML (eXtensible Markup Language) schema, obXML, for exchange of occupant information modeling and integration with building simulation tools.


Building and Environment



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