About Annex 79

As building envelopes and mechanical and electrical equipment become more efficient, the impact of occupants on building energy increases. Meanwhile trends in teleworking, co-working, and home-sharing mean vastly different occupancy than the standard occupancy schedules. Finally, global expectations for comfort are increasing, while a variety of new technologies may or may not succeed in meeting this demand. The convergence of these trends has necessitated a new look at how occupants are incorporated into building design nd operation practice throughout the building life-cycle.

The field of occupant modelling emerged over four decades ago; however, it has surged in the past decade – particularly as a result of IEA EBC Annex 66 – “Simulation and Definition of Occupant Behaviour in Buildings”. Annex 66 played an important role in formalizing experimental research methods, modeling and model validation, and occupant simulation. Given the number of unanswered questions about occupant comfort and behaviour and minimal penetration of advanced occupant modelling into practice, this follow-up Annex 79 - “Occupant behaviour-centric building design and operation”.

With the overall goal to integrate and implement occupancy and occupant behaviour into the design process and building operation to improve both energy performance and occupant comfort, Annex 79 is focussing on:

  • developing new scientific knowledge about adaptive occupant actions driven by multiple interdependent indoor environmental parameters,
  • understanding interactions between occupants and building systems, e.g. how interfaces en-/discourage occupants taking advantage of adaptive opportunities for improving their comfort situation, as well as the impact on building energy use,
  • deploying ‘big data’ (e.g. data mining and machine learning) for the building sector based on various sources of building and occupant data as well as sensing technologies,
  • developing methods and guidelines and preparing standards for integrating occupant models in building design and operation, and
  • performing focused case studies to test the new methods and models in different design and operation phases in order to obtain valuable feedback for the researchers, practitioners, and policy makers.

The Operating Agents of Annex 79 are Professor Andreas Wagner (Germany) and Professor Liam O’Brien (Canada). The subtask structure and leadership are shown in the following figure.


Planned deliverables are summarized in the following table.


Deliverable (responsible subtask(s) in brackets)

Scientists and academics

Report on:

  • Comprehensive literature review for the four Subtasks (1,2,3,4)
  • Unified theoretical framework for perceptual and behavioural theory of building occupants;
  • Guidelines for research methods related to: evaluating occupant comfort and building interfaces (1), occupant data collection (2), and applying data analytics to occupant data (2)

Practitioners (architects, engineers, building managers)

Report on:

  • Best-practices for building interfaces (1), occupant-centric design workflows (3), and optimal control strategies (4)
  • Focused case studies, including lessons learned (3 and 4)

Manufacturers (controls, HVAC, mechanical and electrical equipment, etc.)

Report on:

  • Best-practices for interface design and evaluation criteria of new products considering multi-aspect comfort (1)

Policy-makers (e.g., government, building code officials)

Report on:

  • Recommendations on occupant modelling in building energy codes (1)
  • Recommendations for standards on occupant metering/sensing infrastructure and controls (2)

Results of the Annex are widely disseminated through conference and journal publications, journal special issues, panel discussions, presentations, books, technical reports, and guidelines.

Annex 79 will last from 2018 to 2023. Bi-annual meetings will be held in the spring and fall, while work will continue year-round. Prospective participants may contact the operating agents.

Participants: Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Germany, France, India, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America


Annex Info & Contact

Status: Ongoing (2018 - 2024)

Operating Agents

Liam O’Brien
Civil and Environmental Engineering
Carleton University
3432 Mackenzie Building
1125 Colonel By Drive
Ottawa, ON K1S 5B6
Tel: +011 613-520-2600 x8037

Andreas Wagner (Operating Agent)
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology