Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Energy Consumption in Office Buildings: A Case Study of an Australian University Campus

Sara Tavakoli, Wipa Loengbudnark, Melissa Eklund, Alexey Voinov, Kaveh Khalilpour

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Building energy management, in terms of both adopted technologies and occupant consumption behaviour, is becoming an essential element of sustainability and climate change mitigation programs. The global COVID-19 pandemic and the consequential lockdowns and remote working had a notable impact on office building operations and provided a unique opportunity for building energy consumption studies. This paper investigates the COVID-19 effects on energy consumption in office buildings, particularly in the education sector. We studied different buildings at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) campus before and during the pandemic period. The results demonstrate that the changes in energy consumption due to COVID-19 in different UTS faculties are not as strongly correlated with occupant activity. The comparison shows that buildings with administrative offices or classrooms are easier to switch to a remote-working mode than those housing laboratories and special equipment. During weekends, public holidays, or conditions requiring working from home, the per capita energy consumption increases significantly translating into lower energy efficiency. Our findings highlight the essential need for some changes in office building energy management systems. We provide recommendations for office and commercial buildings in general to deal with similar crises and to reduce energy overconsumption in normal situations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4240
JournalSustainability
Volume15
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 Feb 2023

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • building energy management
  • building management system (BMS)
  • commercial building
  • lockdown
  • university building

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