A data driven method for optimal sensor placement in multi-zone buildings

Gowri Suryanarayana, Javier Arroyo, Lieve Helsen, Jesus Lago

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In this paper, we propose a data-driven methodology to identify the optimal placement of sensors in a multi-zone building. The proposed methodology is based on statistical tests that study the (in) dependence of measurements from various available sensors. The tests advice on a set of most dissimilar sensors to be retained, as they would convey the maximum information. The method starts with an initial setup that can provide measurements of every building zone to carry out this study; any of these sensors can be removed eventually to decrease costs in normal operation. The method has the advantages of being purely data driven and computationally efficient, as against several methods proposed in the scientific literature, that operate under the premise that detailed building models are available, to evaluate the number/position of the required sensors. This property makes the method scale to different buildings, in an expert free manner. The methodology can help towards better characterization of a building for optimal control and monitoring applications. It is validated against a widely used method – Kalman filtering with Grey-box models, using two different case studies. In both cases, the proposed approach agrees with the results using grey box models, suggesting that the method is reliable, while being quick and efficient.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110956
Number of pages10
JournalEnergy and Buildings
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Building modeling
  • Building sensing
  • Data driven
  • Grey-box modeling
  • Optimal sensor placement


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