Usability evaluation of a web-based tool for supporting holistic building energy management

  • Author:

    McGlinn, Kris; Yuce, Baris; Wicaksono, Hendro; Howell, Shaun; Rezgui, Yacine

  • Source:

    Automation in Construction

  • Date: 2017
  • This paper presents the evaluation of the level of usability of an intelligent monitoring and control interface for energy efficient management of public buildings, called BuildVis, which forms part of a Building Energy Management System (BEMS.) The BEMS ‘intelligence’ is derived from an intelligent algorithm component which brings together ANN-GA rule generation, a fuzzy rule selection engine, and a semantic knowledge base. The knowledge base makes use of linked data and an integrated ontology to uplift heterogeneous data sources relevant to building energy consumption. The developed ontology is based upon the Industry Foundation Classes (IFC), which is a Building Information Modelling (BIM) standard and consists of two different types of rule model to control and manage the buildings adaptively. The populated rules are a mix of an intelligent rule generation approach using Artificial Neural Network (ANN) and Genetic Algorithms (GA), and also data mining rules using Decision Tree techniques on historical data. The resulting rules are triggered by the intelligent controller, which processes available sensor measurements in the building. This generates ‘suggestions’ which are presented to the Facility Manager (FM) on the BuildVis web-based interface. BuildVis uses HTML5 innovations to visualise a 3D interactive model of the building that is accessible over a wide range of desktop and mobile platforms. The suggestions are presented on a zone by zone basis, alerting them to potential energy saving actions. As the usability of the system is seen as a key determinate to success, the paper evaluates the level of usability for both a set of technical users and also the FMs for five European buildings, providing analysis and lessons learned from the approach taken.