Build to satisfy: Modeling of user behavior in lowest and plus energy buildings: Consequences for building and comfort

Aim of the project was a better understanding and modeling of effects of user behavior on energy performance in office and service buildings, built with lowest energy building and plus-energy building techniques. The results support facility managers of office/service buildings and integrate gender and diversity issues.

Short Description




Starting point/Motivation

Employees in service buildings influence building operation in various ways. The subjective opinions and resulting behaviour of users are not only determined by "objective" comfort parameters (temperature, humidity, draught), but depend decisively on social aspects. Examples for these aspects are:

  • Personal control to influence building operation, e.g.: Can users influence certain operating parameters?
  • Organisation of decision-making processes, e.g.: To which extent are users involved in decision-making and do they have the feeling that their concerns and complaints are taken seriously?
  • (Previous) knowledge and attitudes of users in terms of energy performance of lowest energy and plus-energy building techniques.

Contents and Objectives

The project contributes to understanding the effects of user behaviour on the energy performance of commercial buildings in low-and plus-energy buildings better, and evaluated the impact of home automation on user behaviour.

The goal was therefore to identify factors influencing the psychological, social, organizational, planning and technical level, which lead to more satisfied users and to more involvement in an optimal operation of the building.


The project focused in particular on four issues:

  1. In two case studies qualitative interviews with users in two exemplary buildings pictured user behaviour of various users and its implication on the building operation. Parameters on different levels, which influence behaviour and user satisfaction, were captured.
  2. By means of a quantitative web-based survey in several low- and energy-plus buildings in Austria experiences, problems and wishes of users with and to the buildings were evaluated.
  3. Using the method of agent based social simulation the influence of attitudes, knowledge, decision-making structure and mutual influence of users and the resulting collective behaviour and its effects on building operation were modelled.
  4. Expert interviews and workshops with facility managers and building operators regarding their experiences rounded off the project.


As main result of the project a digital information folder with practice-oriented recommendations for building planners, property developers, house technicians, facility managers and an online tool with the description of the performed agent based modelling in this project were developed. Recommendations include:

  • Options on the level of technical building equipment to better incorporate user requirements,
  • Options on decision-making and management level to effectively involve users in the building management,
  • Options for information and awareness rising as well as
  • The suitability of the model of agent based social simulation of user behaviour and decision making as a "tool" to support building planners and facility managers was tested.

The digital information folder and the webtool can be downloaded from the website of the IFZ.

Project Partners

Contact Address

Interuniversity Research Center for Technology, Work and Culture (IFZ)
Mag. Jürgen Suschek-Berger
Schlögelgasse 2
A-8010 Graz
Tel.: +43 (664) 88 79 69 89