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Intelligent Human-Buildings Interaction Lab

Research group Intelligent Human-Buildings Interactions lab (IHBI) at Department of Applied Physics and Electronics, Umeå University, aims to explore the interaction among energy, energy-efficient measures and occupant behaviour using lab experiment. As a new research domain, IHBI conducts cutting-edge research on immersive built environment, data-driven modelling and machine learning, intelligent indoor environment for evidence-informed decision-making.

The building sector in the European Union (EU) is the largest consumer of energy across Europe and account for as much as 40% of the energy consumption. Today, roughly 75% of the EU building stock is energy inefficient and the energy-saving potential of the building sector is remarkable. Improving energy efficiency in buildings therefore has a key role to play in achieving the ambitious goal of carbon-neutrality by 2050, set out in the European Green Deal. For this reason, energy-efficient measures, such as efficient insulations in the building envelope, more energy-efficient windows, adoption of energy-efficient Heat Ventilation Air Conditioning (HVAC) system are being increasingly implemented.

Case studies have observed the significant discrepancy between actual and expected target of energy-consumption caused by improved energy efficiency. Energy-efficient measures alone do not guarantee efficient energy use in buildings. Indeed, energy related occupant behaviors, includes adjusting thermostat settings, opening/closing windows, dimming/switching lights, pulling up/down blinds, turning on/off HVAC systems have a considerable impact on building energy performance.

In fact, how occupant behaviours change under the influence of adoption of various energy-efficient measures remains an unresolved issue. IHBI is to bring a structured understanding of how these measures will influence occupant behaviour and how the changes in occupant behaviour will, in turn, impact expected energy savings caused by energy-efficient measures for achieving occupant-centric energy efficient.

A series of experiments are being conducted at IHBI lab to explore the interactions among energy, energy-efficient measures and occupant behaviour. Experiment is set up by adopting immersive built environment, intelligent indoor environment, big-data driven modelling and machine learning to build a hybrid virtual-physical experimental environment, as shown in Fig.