Simulation-aided occupant-centric building design: A critical review of tools, methods, and applications

Elie Azar, William O'Brien, Salvatore Carlucci, Tianzhen Hong, Andrew Sonta, Joyce Kim, Maedot S. Andargie, Tareq Abuimara, Mounir El Asmar, Rishee K. Jain, Mohamed M. Ouf, Farhang Tahmasebi, Jin Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Occupants are active participants in their built environment, affecting its performance while simultaneously being affected by its design and indoor environmental conditions. With recent advances in computer modeling, simulation tools, and analysis techniques, topics such as human-building interactions and occupant behavior have gained significant interest in the literature given their premise of improving building design processes and operating strategies. In practice, the focus of occupant-centric literature has been mostly geared towards the latter (i.e., operation), leaving the implications on building design practices underexplored. This paper fills the gap by providing a critical review of existing studies applying computer-based modeling and simulation to guide occupant-centric building design. The reviewed papers are organized along four main themes, namely occupant-centric: (i) metrics of building performance, (ii) modeling and simulation approaches, (iii) design methods and applications, and (iv) supporting practices and mechanisms. Important barriers are identified for a more effective application of occupant-centric building design practices, including the limited consideration of metrics beyond energy efficiency (e.g., occupant well-being and space planning), the limited implementation and validation of the proposed methods, and the lack of integration of occupant behavior modeling in existing building performance simulation tools. Future research directions are discussed, covering large-scale international data collection efforts to move from generic assumptions about occupant behavior to specific/localized knowledge, improved metrics of measuring building performance, and improved industry practices, such as building codes, to promote an occupant-in-the-loop approach to the building design process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number110292
JournalEnergy and Buildings
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020


  • Building design
  • Building performance simulation
  • Human-building interaction
  • Occupant behavior
  • Occupant-centric
  • Performance metrics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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