RFID-Based Occupancy Detection Solution for Optimizing HVAC Energy Consumption

Shuai Li, Nan Li, Burcin Becerik-Gerber, Gulben Calis
Pages 587-592 (2011 Proceedings of the 28th ISARC, Seoul, Korea)

Current building climate control systems often rely on predetermined maximum occupancy numbers coupled with temperature sensor data to regulate heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC). However, rooms and zones in a building are not always fully occupied. Real-time occupancy information can potentially be used to reduce energy consumption. The paper proposes an RFID-based occupancy detection solution to address the need for real-time in-building occupancy information. The proposed solution can track real-time location of tagged occupants, and report the occupancy at the zone level. A prototype was built and tested in a campus-dining hall with three zones. Occupants who were waiting in a queue, walking, or sitting were equipped with active RFID tags. The results demonstrated that the location of occupants could be estimated and 71% of the occupants could be detected at the right predefined zone. Based on the findings, detailed and operable strategies for optimizing HVAC-related building energy consumption by using occupancy information are proposed.

Keywords: Occupancy Detection, RFID, Building Energy Consumption, Optimization, HVAC