July 2013
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Measuring Building Occupancy

The movement toward a better integrated, inclusive, and accurate occupant measuring system is something to consider.

Paul Ehrlich, Ira Goldschmidt & Angela Lewis
Building Intelligence Group

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Engineered Systems 
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There are many potential benefits to knowing not only how many people are in a building, but ideally were they are located.  Why would we want to know?  Well with better information on occupancy we could:

On past projects we have used several proxies for occupancy including the use of CO2, manual operator input, and data from card access systems.  While all of these are good proxies none is highly accurate.  For example not all building occupants use their cards to enter an building and in many buildings occupants do not use their cards when exiting the building. 

CatNet Systems There are now a series of new technologies becoming available for people counting. Some of these are coming from security systems, and others have evolved from retailing.  Retailing?  Yes, it turns out that retailers needed an accurate way to measure how long customers have been standing in line so that they can decide if they should open another register.  This same technology can be readily used across a commercial building and integrated in as part of an intelligent building.  The technologies include infrared sensors, cameras, and thermal imagers.  When looking at a solution some considerations include cost, flexibility, support and of course the ability to deal with the issue of occupant privacy.

The movement toward a better integrated, inclusive, and accurate occupant measuring system is something to consider.  While these systems add to project cost and complexity, they offer benefits and could reduce the need for existing tools including occupancy and CO2 sensors. 



About the Authors

Paul and IraPaul and Ira first worked together on a series of ASHRAE projects including the BACnet committee and Guideline 13 – Specifying DDC Controls. The formation of Building Intelligence Group provided them the ability to work together professionally providing assistance to owners with the planning, design and development of Intelligent Building Systems. Building Intelligence Group provides services for clients worldwide including leading Universities, Corporations, and Developers. More information can be found at www.buildingintelligencegroup.com  We also invite you to contact us directly at Paul@buildingintelligencegroup.com or ira@buildingintelligencegroup.com


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