Mining big building operational data for improving building energy efficiency: A case study

Cheng Fan, Fu Xiao

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Massive amounts of building operational data are collected and stored in modern buildings, which provide rich information for in-depth investigation and assessment of actual building operational performance. However, the current utilization of big building operational data is far from being effective due to the gaps between building engineering and advanced big data analytics. Data mining is a promising technology for extracting previously unknown yet potentially useful insights from big data. This paper aims to explore the potential application of advanced data mining techniques for effective utilization of big building operational data. A case study of mining the operational data of an educational building for performance improvement is presented. Decision tree, clustering analysis, and association rule mining are adopted to analyze the operational data. The results show that useful knowledge can be extracted for identifying typical building operation patterns, detecting operation deficiencies, and spotting energy conservation opportunities. Practical application: The current utilization of big building operational data in the building industry is rather limited due to the lack in experience of using advanced big data analytics. This study presents a data mining-based method for analyzing massive building operational data. The case study results validate the efficiency and effectiveness of the method proposed. It can help building professionals to discover valuable insights into building operation patterns and thereby developing strategies for improving building energy efficiency. The method can be fully realized using the open-source software R, which provides great flexibilities in its integration with building automation systems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-128
Number of pages12
JournalBuilding Services Engineering Research and Technology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • association rule mining
  • Big building operational data
  • building energy efficiency
  • clustering analysis
  • decision tree

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Building and Construction


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