Cognitive barriers during monitoring-based commissioning of buildings

Nora Harris, Tripp Shealy, Kristen Parrish, Jessica Granderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Monitoring-based commissioning (MBCx) is a continuous building energy management process used to optimize energy performance in buildings. Although monitoring-based commissioning (MBCx) can reduce energy waste by up to 20%, many buildings still underperform due to issues such as unnoticed system faults and inefficient operational procedures. While there are technical barriers that impede the MBCx process, such as data quality, the focuses of this paper are the non-technical, behavioral and organizational, barriers that contribute to issues initiating and implementing MBCx. In particular, this paper discusses cognitive biases, which can lead to suboptimal outcomes in energy efficiency decisions, resulting in missed opportunities for energy savings. This paper provides evidence of cognitive biases in decisions during the MBCx process using qualitative data from over 40 public and private sector organizations. The results describe barriers resulting from cognitive biases, listed in descending order of occurrence, including: risk aversion, social norms, choice overload, status quo bias, information overload, professional bias, and temporal discounting. Building practitioners can use these results to better understand potential cognitive biases, in turn allowing them to establish best practices and make more informed decisions. Researchers can use these results to empirically test specific decision interventions and facilitate more energy efficient decisions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101389
JournalSustainable Cities and Society
StatePublished - Apr 2019


  • Behavioral decision science
  • Cognitive biases
  • Energy management and information systems
  • Monitoring-based commissioning
  • Risk aversion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Transportation
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Civil and Structural Engineering


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