Users' Impact on Buildings' Energy Performance Gap




Buildings, Energy Performance Gap, Occupant Behaviour, Simulation


Prior to implementation of new building (or building retrofit) projects, buildings' future energy demand is regularly predicted for certification or optimisation purposes. However, there is often a deviation between the projected and actual energy use during buildings' operation. A number of different factors can contribute to this mismatch that is typically referred to as energy performance gap (EPG). These could be due to uncertainties regarding weather conditions, buildings' systems, construction, and geometry. Specifically, issues regarding occupants' behaviour and related control actions have recently been suggested to be a major cause for the EPG. However, evidence for such a claim is not conclusive. In this context, this contribution explores the impact of occupants' control-oriented behaviour (e.g., interactions with buildings' control components and systems, such as opening or closing windows or adjusting thermostats) on buildings' energy performance. The present contribution entails critical reflections on these issues. Moreover, strategies are discussed that could balance occupants' control opportunities and energy efficiency targets.


Download data is not yet available.


M.S. Geraldi & E. Ghisi, “Building-level and stock-level in contrast: A literature review of the energy performance of buildings during the operational stage”. Energy and Buildings, 211, 109810, 2020, doi:

M. Sunikka-Blank & R. Galvin, ”Introducing the prebound effect: The gap between per-formance and actual energy consumption”. Building Research & Information, 40(3), 260–273, 2012, doi:

A.C. Menezes, A. Cripps, D. Bouchlaghem & R. Buswell, “Predicted vs. actual energy performance of non-domestic buildings: Using post-occupancy evaluation data to reduce the performance gap”. Applied Energy, 97, 355–364, 2012, doi:

R.K. Andersen, V. Fabi & S.P. Corgnati, “Predicted and actual indoor environmental quality: Verification of occupants' behaviour models in residential buildings”. Energy and Buildings, 127, 105–115, 2016.

B. Berggren & M. Wall, “Two Methods for Normalisation of Measured Energy Perfor-mance—Testing of a Net-Zero Energy Building in Sweden”. Buildings, 7(4), 86, 2017, doi:

T. Hong, S.C. Taylor-Lange, S. D'Oca, D. Yan, & S.P. Corgnati “Advances in research and applications of energy-related occupant behavior in buildings”. Energy and Build-ings, 116, 694–702, 2016, doi:

M. Jia R.S. Srinivasan & A.A. Raheem “From occupancy to occupant behavior: An ana-lytical survey of data acquisition technologies, modeling methodologies and simulation coupling mechanisms for building energy efficiency”. Renewable and Sustainable Ener-gy Reviews, 68, 525–540, 2017, doi:

D. Yan, W. O'Brien, T. Hong, X. Feng, H. Burak Gunay, F. Tahmasebi & A. Mahdavi, “Occupant behavior modeling for building performance simulation: Current state and fu-ture challenges”. Energy and Buildings, 107, 264–278, 2015, doi:

H. Yoshino, T. Hong & N. Nord, “IEA EBC annex 53: Total energy use in buildings—Analysis and evaluation methods”. Energy and Buildings, 152, 124–136, 2017, doi:

A. Mahdavi, C. Berger, H. Amin, E. Ampatzi, R.K. Andersen, E. Azar, V. Barthelmes, M. Favero, J. Hahn, D. Khovalyg, H.N. Knudsen, A. Luna-Navarro, A. Roetzel, F.C. Sangogboye, M. Schweiker, M. Taheri, D. Teli, M. Touchie, & S. Verbruggen, “The Role of Occupants in Buildings' Energy Performance Gap: Myth or Reality?” Sustainability, 13(6), 3146, 2021, doi:

H. Amin, C. Berger & A. Mahdavi, “A structured approach to the evaluation of evidence for the purported role of occupants in energy performance”. In Proceedings of the 36th PLEA Conference 2022 - Sustainable Architecture and Urban Design, 2022.

B. Dong, Y. Liu, W. Mu, Z. Jiang, P. Pandey, T. Hong, B. Olesen, T. Lawrence, Z. O'Neil, C. Andrews, E. Azar, K. Bandurski, R. Bardhan, M. Bavaresco, C. Berger, J. Burry, S. Carlucci, K. Chvatal, M. De Simone, A. Mahdavi, X. Zhou et al., “A Global Building Occupant Behavior Database”. Scientific Data, 9(1), 2022, doi:

A. Mahdavi, “In the matter of simulation and buildings: Some critical reflections”. Journal of Building Performance Simulation, 13(1), 26–33, 2020, doi:

A. Mahdavi & C. Berger, “Exploring the role of occupants in buildings' energy perfor-mance gap”, Technical Article BUILD UP, 2023, available at:




How to Cite

Berger, C., & Mahdavi, A. (2024). Users’ Impact on Buildings’ Energy Performance Gap. International Sustainable Energy Conference - Proceedings, 1.

Conference Proceedings Volume


Positive Energy Buildings and Districts