An international review of occupant-related aspects of building energy codes and standards
Journal article, 2020

In light of recent research, it is evident that occupants are playing an increasingly important role in building energy performance. Despite the important role of building energy codes and standards in design, the occupant-related aspects are typically simple and have not kept up with the leading research. This paper reviews 23 regions’ building energy codes and standards by first comparing their quantitative aspects and then analyzing their mandated rules and approaches. While the present paper focuses on offices, general recommendations are applicable to other building types as well. The review revealed a wide range of occupant-related values, approaches, and attitudes. For example, code-specified occupant density varies by nearly a factor of three between different codes. This underlines the need for development of advancement in occupant behavior modeling approaches for future occupant-centric building performance codes and standards. Moreover, occupants are often referred to only implicitly; underlying expectations about energy-saving occupant behavior from building occupants varies greatly; and, only a few codes address occupant feedback and system usability. Based on the findings of the review, a set of initial recommendations for future building energy codes is proposed.

International review

Building codes

Occupant behavior


William O'Brien

Carleton University

Farhang Tahmasebi

University College London (UCL)

Rune Korsholm Andersen

Technical University of Denmark (DTU)

Elie Azar

Khalifa University

Verena Barthelmes

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL)

Zsofia Deme Belafi

Budapest University of Technology and Economics

Christiane Berger

Vienna University of Technology

Dong Chen

Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)

Marilena De Simone

University of Calabria

Simona d'Oca

Huygen Engineers & Consultants BV

Tianzhen Hong

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Quan Jin

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Building Technology

Dolaana Khovalyg

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL)

Roberto Lamberts

Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina

Vojislav Novakovic

Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)

June Young Park

The University of Texas at Austin

Manfred Plagmann


Vinu Subashini Rajus

Carleton University

Marika Vellei

LaSIE (UMR CNRS 7356) La Rochelle University

Silke Verbruggen

Ghent university

Andreas Wagner

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)

Eric Willems

Huygen Engineers & Consultants BV

Da Yan

Tsinghua University

Jin Zhou

Monash University

Building and Environment

0360-1323 (ISSN)

Vol. 179 106906

Occupant well-being and productivity in sustainable office buildings: A multidisciplinary study on the key factors of indoor environmental quality

Formas (FR-2018/0010), 2019-01-01 -- 2021-12-31.

Subject Categories

Building Technologies



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