Designing buildings for real occupants: An agent-based approach

Clinton J. Andrews, Daniel Yi, Uta Krogmann, Jennifer A. Senick, Richard E. Wener

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Building information modeling is only beginning to incorporate human factors, although buildings are sites where humans and technologies interact with globally significant consequences. Some buildings fail to perform as their designers intended, in part because users do not or cannot properly operate the building, and some occupants behave differently than designers expect. Innovative buildings, e.g., green buildings, are particularly susceptible to usability problems. This paper presents a framework for prospectively measuring the usability of designs before buildings are constructed, while there is still time to improve the design. The framework, which was implemented as an agent-based computer simulation model, tests how well buildings are likely to perform, given realistic occupants. An illustrative model for lighting design shows that this modeling approach has practical efficacy, demonstrating that, to the extent that users exhibit heterogeneous behaviors and preferences, designs that allow greater local control and ease of operation perform better.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5740371
Pages (from-to)1077-1091
Number of pages15
JournalIEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics Part A:Systems and Humans
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • Buildings
  • design automation
  • human factors
  • simulation
  • usability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Information Systems
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications


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