Through building performance simulations, previous studies showed the effect of occupants on buildings' energy consumption. To further demonstrate this effect using empirical evidence, this study analyzed the effect of occupancy on real-time electricity consumption in three case-study schools in Manitoba. Within each school, one classroom as well as the gymnasium were sub-metered to collect real-time electricity consumption data at half-hourly intervals. The study focused on electricity consumption for lighting and plug loads, which make up 30% of energy consumption in Canadian commercial and institutional buildings. A comprehensive method was developed to investigate energy-related occupant behaviour in the sub-metered spaces using four different tools simultaneously: 1) gymnasium bookings after school hours over a four-month period, 2) half-hourly observations of lighting and equipment use in the sub-metered spaces in each school over a two-week period, 3) a daily survey administered to teachers in the sub-metered classrooms over a two-week period, and 4) occupancy and light sensors to evaluate actual recorded occupancy and light use durations over a four-month period. Results showed that recorded occupancy durations over a 4-month period only explained less than 10% of the variations in classrooms' lighting electricity consumption, meaning that lights may have been used frequently while classrooms were unoccupied. Results also showed the differences in gymnasiums' electricity consumption were still statistically significant between the three schools, even after school hours and when the gymnasiums were not used or booked for other activities. This study is the first to provide in-depth evaluation of the effect of occupancy on electricity consumption in Canadian schools.

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Author notes

1. Department of Civil Engineering; University of Manitoba, 15 Gillson Street, Winnipeg MB R3T 5V6 Canada

2. Customer Engineering Department; Manitoba Hydro