Evaluating the energy efficiency gap in Masdar City: A case study on the Incubator Building

  • Juan David Barbosa

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Energy consumed in commercial buildings during operation oftentimes differs from the one predicted during design, whose efficiency gap can be attributed to how occupants and facility managers control building systems. Consequently, there is a growing need for a holistic analysis of building energy performance that accounts for how people affect and get affected by the built environment. Studies in the literature typically focus on one of two objectives, maximizing energy savings or occupants' comfort. To achieve the first, building energy modeling (BEM) is commonly used to test and compare buildings' designs while predicting their energy consumption levels. However, BEM studies typically fail to account for building users' interactions with building systems and provide applicable results only if calibrated with actual building data. The second objective ensures occupants' comfort and wellbeing using Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE) methods to assess the indoor environmental conditions provided by the building. Yet, most POE studies lack a profound analysis on the relationship between satisfied occupants and their demand for energy. The goal of this research is to develop an integrated POE and BEM framework that can be used as a decision-making framework that identifies saving opportunities while accounting for how people operate and interact with various building energy systems. An eight step methodology is used including (1) data collection, (2,5) develop and calibrate a BEM, (3) identify potential energy saving opportunities based on collected data, (4) conduct parametric runs automated using a coupling engine (or code), (6) make recommendations and (7,8) implement and evaluate the most attractive solutions. The framework is illustrated through a case study in Masdar City's Incubator Building in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Results indicate that energy savings up to 27% can be achieved by improving facility management operation policies and creating moderate energy use patterns among occupants. Furthermore, with additional capital investment, the improvements can reach up to 45%. The contributions of this project are significant as it illustrates a holistic POE-guided approach of building energy performance. Such approach helps overcome the limitations of traditional studies that overlook the influence of human actions and operation parameters on energy consumption.
Date of AwardMay 2017
Original languageAmerican English


  • Energy Efficiency Gap; Masdar City; Incubator Building; Building Energy Modeling (BEM); Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE) methods; United Arab Emirates.

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