A critical review on questionnaire surveys in the field of energy-related occupant behaviour
Occupants perform various actions to satisfy their physical and non-physical needs in buildings. These actions greatly affect building operations and thus energy use. Clearly understanding and accurately modelling occupant behaviour in buildings are crucial to guide energy-efficient building design and operation, and to reduce the gap between design and actual energy performance of buildings. To study and understand occupant behaviour, a cross-sectional questionnaire survey is one of the most useful tools to gain insights on general behaviour patterns and drivers, and to find connections between human, social and local comfort parameters. In this study, 33 projects were reviewed from the energy-related occupant behaviour research literature that employed cross-sectional surveys or interviews for data collection from the perspective of findings, limitations and methodological challenges. This research shows that future surveys are needed to bridge the gaps in literature but they would need to encompass a multidisciplinary approach to do so as until now only environmental and engineering factors were considered in these studies. Insights from social practice theories and techniques must be acquired to deploy robust and unbiased questionnaire results, which will provide new, more comprehensive knowledge in the field, and therefore occupant behaviour could be better understood and represented in building performance simulation to support design and operation of low or net-zero energy buildings.