The energy consumption by building heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems has evoked more attention for energy efficient HVAC control and operation. Application of advanced control and operation strategies requires robust online system models. In this research, online models with parameter estimation for a building zone with variable air volume (VAV) system, which is one of the most common HVAC systems, are developed and validated using experimental data. Building zone temperature and VAV entering air flow are modeled based on physical rules and using only the measurements that are commonly available in a commercial building. Different series of validation tests were performed in a real-building test facility to examine the prediction accuracies for system outputs. Using the online system models with parameter estimation, the prediction errors for all the validation tests are less than 0.5°F for temperature outputs, and less than 50 ft3/min for air flow outputs. The online models can be further used for local and supervisory control, as well as fault detection applications.

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