Intelligent building control systems for thermal comfort and energy-efficiency: A systematic review of artificial intelligence-assisted techniques

Ghezlane Halhoul Merabet, Mohamed Essaaidi, Mohamed Ben Haddou, Basheer Qolomany, Junaid Qadir, Muhammad Anan, Ala Al-Fuqaha, Mohamed Riduan Abid, Driss Benhaddou

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

126 Scopus citations


Building operations represent a significant percentage of the total primary energy consumed in most countries due to the proliferation of Heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning (HVAC) installations in response to the growing demand for improved thermal comfort. Reducing the associated energy consumption while maintaining comfortable conditions in buildings are conflicting objectives and represent a typical optimization problem that requires intelligent system design. Over the last decade, different methodologies based on the Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques have been deployed to find the sweet spot between energy use in HVAC systems and suitable indoor comfort levels to the occupants. This paper performs a comprehensive and an in-depth systematic review of AI-based techniques used for building control systems by assessing the outputs of these techniques, and their implementations in the reviewed works, as well as investigating their abilities to improve the energy-efficiency, while maintaining thermal comfort conditions. This enables a holistic view of (1) the complexities of delivering thermal comfort to users inside buildings in an energy-efficient way, and (2) the associated bibliographic material to assist researchers and experts in the field in tackling such a challenge. Among the 20 AI tools developed for both energy consumption and comfort control, functions such as identification and recognition patterns, optimization, predictive control. Based on the findings of this work, the application of AI technology in building control is a promising area of research and still an ongoing, i.e., the performance of AI-based control is not yet completely satisfactory. This is mainly due in part to the fact that these algorithms usually need a large amount of high-quality real-world data, which is lacking in the building or, more precisely, the energy sector. Based on the current study, from 1993 to 2020, the application of AI techniques and personalized comfort models has enabled energy savings on average between 21.81 and 44.36%, and comfort improvement on average between 21.67 and 85.77%. Finally, this paper discusses the challenges faced in the use of AI for energy productivity and comfort improvement, and opens main future directions in relation with AI-based building control systems for human comfort and energy-efficiency management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number110969
JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • Artificial intelligence
  • Buildings
  • Control
  • Energy efficiency
  • Energy saving
  • Heating ventilation and air-conditioning systems
  • Machine learning
  • Occupants
  • Systematic literature review
  • Thermal comfort

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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