Team Projects


University of Detroit Mercy

Name of the energy conservation measure (ECM)

Predictive Occupancy-based HVAC Controls

Purpose of ECM:

Predictive Wi-Fi based Occupancy HVAC Controls is a new measure that is applicable to commercial buildings in general and specifically to large office buildings. A significant improvement to a commercial building’s HVAC efficiency can be derived from predicting where occupants will be at a particular time and from setting the HVAC systems to act in a proactive manner. The premise behind the team’s proposed measure is a paradigm shift away from the traditional notion of heating and cooling “a space.” It is not the space that needs to be heated or cooled, it is the occupants within that space that need to be comfortable. Knowing the current occupancy and having a probabilistic model of future occupancy allows for a rule-based control strategy that is expected to yield sizable increases in efficiency without adversely affecting user comfort.

Description of ECM:

The team proposed a measure of controlling HVAC systems based in inputs from a Wi-Fi based predictive occupancy system. A Wi-Fi scan will be conducted by a server to obtain the needed information from the network. This would include every device on the network, the access points each device can “see”, the signal strength to all available access points, and the frequency of the access point to the device.

When the information is obtained, it will be transformed into the format required of the database and the zone location will be calculated for each device on the network. Then all the data will be saved to the database.

The measure is applicable to buildings that are equipped with a central zone control HVAC system. However, the commercial viability is contingent on whether the energy savings outweigh the cost of installation and maintenance of the software. This is the case for inefficient buildings in general as well as large buildings. There are no restrictions on climate zones or location.

The proposed measure serves as a platform for developing various heuristics and methodologies based on predictive occupancy.