SENSEable Study Looks at Building Occupancy and Energy Use

Many workplaces feature major changes in occupancy over the course of a week. In academic buildings, hundreds of students may pour in for a lecture, then leave an hour or two later, while faculty, researchers and staff can enter and exit in irregular patterns. In commercial structures, workers may come and go en masse during short time periods during the day. As a result, energy use in virtually all workspaces can rapidly become inefficient -- too large or too small -- in relation to the number of people inside. Now, a new study done on MIT buildings reveals some data that could help designers and building managers, on campuses or in the commercial sector, optimize energy usage -- and suggests a template for conducting more research on the subject. The study, published in the April issue of the journal Energy and Buildings, examines data from MIT's buildings M37 and E52, and finds that while electricity use corresponds to occupancy fairly well in those spaces, the activity of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems in the buildings does not correlate closely to occupancy. For the complete story, see MIT News. (Image: John Phelan (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons)