The Role of Sensitivity Analysis in the Building Performance Analysis: A Critical Review: Article No. 109659

Yanfei Li, Zhihong Pang, Zheng O'Neill, Fuxin Niu

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111 Scopus Citations


A building system is highly nonlinear and commonly includes a variety of parameters ranging from the architectural design to the building mechanical and energy system. Serving as a powerful tool to understand the complicated building system, sensitivity analysis (SA) has been receiving increasing attention in the recent decade. This review paper focused on the application of SA in the building performance analysis (BPA). First, the existing review papers on the application of SA for BPA were briefly reviewed and summarized. Then, a large amount of recent SA case studies in BPA were reviewed. The critical information regarding the implementation of a SA, such as the sampling method, the SA method, etc., were extracted and summarized. Next, an extensive analysis was performed to evaluate the role of the SA in the BPA. This includes: 1) The typical selection of the input and output parameters for the SA were visualized; 2) The uncertainty level and sampling strategies for the input parameters were investigated; 3) The principles, benefits, and drawbacks of the SA methods were analyzed and summarized; and 4) The various tools used in the SA, including the simulation software, sampling tools, and SA tools were introduced to facilitate the practitioners. Lastly, several conclusions were summarized on the role of the SA in the BPA. Suggestions were also provided to offer practical solutions to the current challenges.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages29
JournalEnergy and Buildings
StatePublished - 2020

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5500-75845


  • building energy efficiency
  • building energy simulation
  • building performance analysis
  • sensitivity analysis


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