Building Simulation: An International Journal

Article Title

Behavioral variables and occupancy patterns in the design and modeling of Nearly Zero Energy Buildings


zero energy building, occupant behavior, occupancy profiles, electricity consumption


The objective of obtaining high performance energy buildings can be reached considering the contemporaneous effects of technical characteristics and occupancy. Recent studies report that as buildings become more energy efficient, the behavior of occupants plays an increasing role in consumption. Therefore, a construction designed to be a Nearly Zero Energy Building (nZEB) might generate higher consumption than expected if the assumptions made in the simulation process are not respected during the real use. The occupant can modify the control strategies of internal variables (heating/cooling system operation, set point temperature, ventilation, lighting) and the users’ behavior has a high impact on the utilization of plants and equipment. A significant contribution is also represented by the internal gains that have a direct relation with occupancy. The aim of this study is to assess the influence of housing occupancy patterns on the definition of residential nZEB in Italian climatic conditions. The investigation has been carried out considering a case study consisting of a building designed according to the National Standards. Successively, different conditions of the building usage are analyzed using dynamic energy simulations that allow exploration of the different occupation modes. The variability of the family composition and the occupancy scenarios are defined based on the data collected in the specific context. The investigation provides information regarding the effects of human variables (occupants’ needs and preferences) on the final energy performance of low energy buildings and highlights the combination of variables that are important in the definition of nZEB as net zero source energy.


Tsinghua University Press