Restricted (Penn State Only)
Abraham, Yewande Sonayon
Graduate Program:
Architectural Engineering
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
December 04, 2017
Committee Members:
  • Chimay Anumba, Dissertation Advisor
  • Somayeh Asadi, Committee Chair
  • James Freihaut, Committee Member
  • Chimay Anumba, Committee Member
  • Conrad S Tucker, Outside Member
  • Lisa Domenica Iulo, Special Member
  • Nora El-Gohary, Special Member
  • Somayeh Asadi, Dissertation Advisor
  • Occupant values
  • Indoor Environmental Quality
  • Building energy consumption
  • Occupant behavior
  • Occupant comfort
In most countries, including the U.S., buildings are responsible for about 40% of energy consumption and over one-third of greenhouse gas emissions. Buildings consume a significant amount of energy during the operations phase. An acceptable indoor environmental quality (IEQ) is important for building occupants since poor conditions can impact their perceived health and productivity. People spend about 90% of their time indoors and sometimes take actions to improve their comfort such as adjusting the building systems (i.e., heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems), using personal devices, or adjusting their layers of clothing. Building systems do not adequately take the occupant preferences into account during the operations phase and the indoor environmental controls do not always accommodate those preferences. Occupant values (such as thermal comfort and visual comfort) can be better addressed in buildings through improved integration with building controls. Bridging the gap between occupant IEQ needs and the actual indoor conditions can be beneficial to improving building performance and occupant comfort. This study focused on the development of an approach to integrating occupant values and preferences with building systems to enhance comfort while reducing energy consumption. The objectives of this study were to establish occupant values and the relationships between the values, satisfaction, and behavior. A literature review was conducted to identify research gaps, the potential benefits of improved integration, and the applicability of agent-based modeling (ABM) for modeling occupant behavior and occupant values. Following this, an exploratory study using semi-structured interviews and questionnaires was conducted with professionals in the aerospace, shipbuilding, and automobile industry to assess how end-user values and preferences are accounted for and to identify lessons that can be learned for buildings. Empirical studies were completed using three case study buildings, two office spaces and one residential building in two different climates to understand the building operation and occupant values and behavior in those spaces. Surveys to establish occupant values, preferences, and satisfaction were also conducted in these buildings. Drawing on the findings in the industry case studies and empirical studies, an approach was proposed for improved integration between occupant values and building systems. An evaluation of the proposed approach by key industry professionals and experts demonstrated the need for improved communication between occupants and building operators, highlighted the importance of occupant education, and emphasized the energy savings that can be realized by eliminating some of the wasteful behaviors related to occupant discomfort with indoor conditions. Recommendations for an integrative occupant-sensitive building operation were proposed following the exploration of other industries and the empirical studies. This thesis contributes to an understanding of occupant behavior and preferences through continuous monitoring of operational residential and office buildings in different climates. Further emphasis is placed on the role of occupants in buildings and the interventions that can allow for improved integration to enhance IEQ and building energy efficiency.