An agent-based model of building occupant behavior during load shedding

Abstract

Load shedding enjoys increasing popularity as a way to reduce power consumption in buildings during hours of peak demand on the electricity grid. This practice has well known cost saving and reliability benefits for the grid, and the contracts utilities sign with their “interruptible” customers often pass on substantial electricity cost savings to participants. Less well-studied are the impacts of load shedding on building occupants, hence this study investigates those impacts on occupant comfort and adaptive behaviors. It documents experience in two office buildings located near Philadelphia (USA) that vary in terms of controllability and the set of adaptive actions available to occupants. An agent-based model (ABM) framework generalizes the case-study insights in a “what-if” format to support operational decision making by building managers and tenants. The framework, implemented in EnergyPlus and NetLogo, simulates occupants that have heterogeneous thermal and lighting preferences. The simulated occupants pursue local adaptive actions such as adjusting clothing or using portable fans when central building controls are not responsive, and experience organizational constraints, including a corporate dress code and miscommunication with building managers. The model predicts occupant decisions to act fairly well but has limited ability to predict which specific adaptive actions occupants will select.

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Acknowledgements

We thank colleagues who performed much of the fieldwork and preparatory modeling work on this project including MaryAnn Sorensen Allacci, Irina Feygina, Elizabeth Hewitt, Ishanie Niogi, and Ke Xu. Financial support was provided by U.S. Department of Energy award DE-EE0004261 and National science Foundation award AGS-1645786.

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Correspondence to Clinton J. Andrews.

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Electronic Supplementary Material (ESM): supplementary material is available in the online version of this article at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12273-017-0384-x.

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Putra, H.C., Andrews, C.J. & Senick, J.A. An agent-based model of building occupant behavior during load shedding. Build. Simul. 10, 845–859 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12273-017-0384-x

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Keywords

  • locus of control
  • building energy modeling
  • occupant behavior
  • load shedding
  • agent-based modeling