An international review of occupant-related aspects of building energy codes and standards

William O'Brien*, Farhang Tahmasebi, Rune Korsholm Andersen, Elie Azar, Verena Barthelmes, Zsofia Deme Belafi, Christiane Berger, Dong Chen, Marilena De Simone, Simona d'Oca, Tianzhen Hong, Quan Jin, Dolaana Khovalyg, Roberto Lamberts, Vojislav Novakovic, June Young Park, Manfred Plagmann, Vinu Subashini Rajus, Marika Vellei, Silke VerbruggenAndreas Wagner, Eric Willems, Da Yan, Jin Zhou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

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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.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106906
JournalBuilding and Environment
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Building codes
  • International review
  • Occupant behavior


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