Characterizing variations in variable air volume system controls

Publication Type

Journal Article

Date Published



The variable air volume (VAV) system is the most popular form of heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system used in commercial buildings. Researchers and engineers often use VAV systems as a reference when evaluating new technologies and systems or comparing design options. However, VAV system performance varies significantly, in part because of variations among VAV system controls, so, when analyzing use cases, it is critical to accurately represent system controls in order to accurately define system performance. Unfortunately, no existing literature documents standard VAV system controls for this purpose. This paper aims to remedy this omission by characterizing the variations in VAV system controls and proposing an approach to representing VAV system baseline performance. We used EnergyPlus to model variation among VAV system controls. We use the medium-size office reference-building model developed by the U.S. Department of Energy to demonstrate the impact of variations among controls in two U.S. climate zones and sort system performance into “good,” “average,” and “poor” categories.


Energy and Buildings



Year of Publication



166 - 175



Short Title

Energy and Buildings