Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Speaking at ASHRAE!

One advantage of a year-end vacation is being able to catch up on things. Last week I was plowing through e-mail and decided to look at BACnet International's new monthly industry newsletter, "Cornerstones." (You can sign up for it here.)

In it was a note about the BACnet International education track during the upcoming AHR Expo. I remembered I had put my hat in the ring when BACnet International called for speakers, but I hadn't heard anything more. So I clicked through to see who is speaking on what, and there are a number of interesting topics including energy efficiency, green buildings and the Smart Grid. Not to mention BACnet ("BACnet 101" sounded like it would be a David Fisher topic, but it appears not). The only problem is that my meeting schedule is now 100% full from Thursday morning through Tuesday afternoon, with possible short breaks on Sunday.

But then, at the end I saw a title that sounded familiar: "Energy Standards and Energy Efficiency with BACnet." Hmmm... It took a while before I found that if I clicked on the title I got all the information, and yup, I'm speaking. All I can guess is that the notice got lost in my little laptop/email fiasco in November. And for the time, I think it overlaps two concurrent meetings but oh well.

Date: Tuesday, February 1st
Time: 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Room: N103
Exhibitor: BACnet Intl.
Description: As the demand for more energy-efficient buildings has grown, the number of ways for achieving more energy-efficient buildings, and saving money, using their building automation systems have also grown. Many successful strategies have been incorporated into ASHRAE and LEED standards and guidelines. This session will look at the various strategies presented in these standards and guidelines, and how they have been successful in the real world.
Cost: FREE
How To Register: No Registration Required
Speaker: Bill Swan, LEED AP, Buildings Standards Initiatives Leader, Alerton

Now all I need are the master slides.

Back of the BAC Cave

With some time off at home at year's end I've been able to catch up on a few small projects. One is sort through pictures taken during the year. Among them were some new shots of the BAC Cave, showing off the new "basket" lamp given by my sister to balance the one she gave me soon after my office became the BAC Cave (years prior to this blog). Thanks, Jin!

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Merry Christmas to you all

From dark and grey Seattle -- but at least we don't have Europe's snow and travel problems. Remember those travelers this holiday.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The problem of repeated requirements... standards is well-known. As the BACNET-L list was reminded today by a little discussion about the Subscribe-COV service.

We received a question from Vamsi Krishna noting that Clause reads, in part:

"If both the 'Issue Confirmed Notifications' and 'Lifetime' parameters are absent, then this shall indicate a cancellation request. If the 'Lifetime' parameter is present then the 'Issue Confirmed Notifications' parameter shall be present."
The question was what a device should do if only the 'Lifetime' parameter is absent. This caused a bit of discussion about whether this situation was even intended, or what should be done since it was not stated. Then Coleman noted that Clause 13.14.2 handled this:
If the 'Lifetime' parameter is not present but the 'Issue Confirmed Notifications' is present, then a value of zero (indefinite lifetime) shall be assumed for the lifetime.
But when I read 13.14.2 in its entirety I noted that it also repeated the requirements of Clearly the three sentences belong together, but having two of them appear earlier led people, myself included, to stop at the first clause with these requirements.

The author of this material was even then an experienced standards writer, so I can only assume it was a cut&paste error. But it sure caused some confusion.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Feedback for Analog Output objects

Trying to get through my email backlog, I saw a very good question from Jörg to the BACNET-L list (probably unanswered because it was sent just before a 4-day holiday weekend here in the U.S.): Why isn't there an optional Feedback_Value property in the Analog Output object?

As I answered in part on the list, in order to implement it in the way it is done on the Binary Output object one would also need Deadband and Time_Delay properties, different from the ones already present, in order to implement a COMMAND_FAILURE-like algorithm. Not that that's a bad thing. This might be a useful type of alarm.

Some of the work of the "Alarm Summit" group might provide a way to do this fairly easily perhaps and without new properties. But that work remains in the Objects & Services group for now. It's a big step and I can understand if folks are cautious about it.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Catching up is hard to do

Back in the office, and finally back to my e-mail that I've been cut off from for weeks. It's not too bad now on Day 2 -- I'm down to only 172 unread e-mails.

But I also missed some deadlines; in part because I couldn't work on them for a time, in part because without Outlook I didn't know the deadlines. But two of the biggest items are now done and delivered: a piece on the Smart Grid for a high-school textbook, and an article for the upcoming second edition of the BACnet International Journal.

Now I have to go dig out some statistics on BACnet testing. After that, I am more or less caught up except for what might be in those 172, nope, it's 173 now, unread e-mails.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

In the dark

The plenary sessions of the meeting are signaled not only audibly with chimes but by dimming the lights, particularly in other areas of the ballroom. But in this conference they're going nearly to black and for extended periods of time. A bit difficult for those of us who, for various reasons, wind up in the adjacent vendor area near the only available wall outlets. (For my part it's been to complete the graphics for a description of the Smart Grid for a colleague's green building textbook.)

The other fellow at my table had the solution: his laptop has a built-in LED to illuminate the keyboard. What a great idea.

Grid-Interop 2010

Today is the third (or for some folks the fourth) day of Grid-Interop 2010 here in Chicago. My second Grid-Interop, though I gather it's the fourth. Last year's event featured the kickoff of NIST's Smart Grid Interoperability Panel, which brought a number of new folks and organizations into the Smart Grid development effort.

The numbers keep growing: it was announced Tuesday that we now have 1750 members and 634 organizations involved, 10% from outside the U.S. It seems we have a quite significant number of members from Japan, with the possibility that in some specific areas Japan may be a little further along than the SGIP, but to at least one member from Japan I had to explain the ANSI consensus-building standards process, which includes representation by various areas of the industry -- it is easier to move faster without such a process. One hopes those a little further down the road can share their experiences that we might learn from them.

A question remains about progress, one year out from the start of the SGIP. I missed the detailed review Tuesday due to an offsite BACnet meeting, but I gather some of the "Priority Action Plan" groups (PAPs, fast-moving narrowly focused ad-hoc groups) have delivered or about to deliver their work items, which then are passed on to standards groups to handle through the standards process. Others are having a more difficult time.

Perhaps some of the difficulty lies in the ways of measuring progress. From my perspective of one small corner of the Grid, the commercial-building consumer of electricity, there has been significant progress made at least in the area of how such buildings will interoperate with the utilities ("the other side of the electric meter"). Though it seems what while I've been absent from my e-mail a new building-grid interface has been defined (to parallel the "Energy Services Interface" developed over the past year), along with a new acronym. I hope to catch up today.

But in other areas, from others' perceptions, there has been less progress. Since "Smart Grid" is not officially described in any way, many are co-opting it for different visions and products -- not all of which are necessarily different from the overall perspective the SGIP is developing, but which could be important components of it. Most of my active participation occurs today and tomorrow -- it will be interesting.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The dog ate my e-mail

This blog's American readers will recognize the old excuse for homework not being done. Mine's a wee bit better -- the wayward laptop finally returned home Wednesday, repaired and re-imaged, but it wasn't until I had re-set it all up over the holiday weekend and I tried to access my e-mail Sunday night before flying out I realized I had a problem. And I confirmed it yesterday from the airport on the way out; my corporate VPN connection had not been configured.

To be fair, I seem to recall the process requires my participation but I've been busy enough in BACnet and Smart Grid meetings (I managed to have both today), not to mention sitting on airplanes, that IT and I have not managed to connect.

On the other hand, being disconnected for a day or three more after two weeks' absence can't increase the pain that much. Plus it's giving me time to write the article and textbook piece on BACnet and Smart Grid that are overdue due to traveling without the laptop at all for too long.

Where I know there are issues I am making contact through this blog's e-mail address; once private and acquired just for the purposes of creating the blog, I fear it will never be the same again.

So if I don't respond to your e-mails, you now know why. The dog ate my e-mail.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Puzzler (event notification timestamps)

Speaking of things going worng, I was handed a puzzler during the plugfest last week and don't know the answer. I'd asked for it to be e-mailed to my Gmail account because I don't have access to work e-mail right now, and it was duly sent. I plan to forward it to the BACNET-L e-mail list, but my Gmail account is not subscribed and I have to wait for the list admin to add it -- I hope he is not on vacation! So I'll initially just post it here for the BACneteers checking in and follow up on the list when I have access.

There exists a device that, due to hardware limitations, does not have a hardware clock. However, the device is able to initiate Un/ConfirmedEventNotifications. The question is: what should the device do for the timestamp parameter of event notifications issued after the device starts up but before it receives a UTC/TimeSync to set its software clock? The options seem to be:
1. Suppress event notifications until the clock is set?
2. Use sequence number until the clock (date and time) is set then switch?
3. Use sequence number only?
4. Start the clock at January 1, 1900 until it is set?
5. Hold the clock at January 1, 1900 until it is set?

I don't like #1 and 5. #2 would be okay except it makes assumptions about the client device that might be invalid. #3 is safest but loses the time information. #4 again makes assumptions about the client device.

Dear readers, what do you think is the best answer?

When things go worng

It was suggested that I should post about the year's "fun" in traveling, but this month alone beats all the rest. It started with the work laptop failing to boot the night before a trip (and due to a snafu we're trying to clear up, it has not reappeared -- I hope it will be back before I fly out Monday for Smart Grid meetings). But I had backed it up just before the crash and have recovered files for one task in front of me: writing a piece on the Smart Grid for a high school textbook.

That was followed by my Android phone no longer connecting to PCs for file transfers, though it was useful for reading documents in the BTL-WG meeting (courtesy of FTP download). Sunday I learned its USB port had failed and the store swapped it for a new one -- now I have hours ahead to reconfigure it. And hours I have, since we're shut in by snow (icy streets and hills are a bad mix).

So, on reports of the Seattle highways being a mess, I went to install the Washington State Dept. of Transportation app on the Android. Then I opened it...

...but why is it giving me information about Tulsa?!? It's looking like it's going to be a loong day..

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Well, the plugfest is long over -- but not for the R&D groups, who'll be working to resolve issues found during the plugfest. Being hampered by the lack of a working laptop at least gave me time to ask around about surprises others encountered during the plugfest and sadly, there were a number.

But then again, not all the devices present have been tested and bear the BTL Mark. I know some of things found, such as a router that apparently does not respond to a Who-Is-Router-To-Network message (but which routes nonetheless, leading to different results from workstations with different network discovery procedures), would have been discovered in BTL testing.

Another surprising response I saw in a previous plugfest (but there was reason for the form of the response) was handled correctly by a client workstation, even though from network traffic it looked like it wasn't. (There was more --much more-- but some items might identify the manufacturer, which is against plugfest privacy rules.)

Until everybody's devices bear the BTL Mark, and maybe even then, plugfests are going to remain important.

And even if we hadn't found anything at all with our devices, we found issues with other (untested) implementations it's comforting to know that we did make it more likely that other devices will work with ours when installed in the field -- fewer unwelcome surprises ahead.

(Looking forward to the BIG-EU plugfest in Saarbrücken, Germany, in May. What will I find there?)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A new plugfest standard?

One could hope... We've not always had even the continental breakfast, but the to-order omelets were a surprise. (If I'd known I might have ordered a lighter dinner last night.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


One of the more fun elements of the BACnet International plugfests is the round-table, a semi-chaotic event where everyone participating plugs into the same set of networks and starts testing, ad-hoc or pre-arranged.


Today there are a couple of "round-tables" running, for ad-hoc and group testing sessions. An interesting feature of one was set up by Steve Karg: an MS/TP LAN with 117 devices. Unfortunately a still photo doesn't convey all the blinking lights.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The biggest yet, with 98 people in 51 teams.

Plugfest prep

It's still a few hours before the plugfest begins but setup is well underway. Sadly, without my laptop I did not have the schedule so I set an alarm to be ready to go at 8AM, instead of sleeping in. Oh well - at least I now know why I didn't see many BACneteers in the hotel last evening.

But they're here today, checking in with Sarah.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Honey, I shrunk the laptop

Carl was amused when he saw my setup for reviewing documents in today's BTL-WG meeting. And made a comment along the lines of the heading on this posting. But to my surprise it worked fairly well, though I could apparently have only one document at a time open. (And, sad to say, not a computer-locked PDF such as the BACnet standard.)

But we made significantprogress today and are laying out the path ahead and how we can accelerate the current pace of test development. Which will mean more work for yours truly (it's that or quit the BTL-WG, but with almost 11 years invested in that I don't want to do that); hopefully it still be in a relatively slow period of Smart Grid development activity.

Less waste, more efficiency

So I'm here at the Westin Atlanta Perimeter North on a gray rainy day, getting ready for today's BACnet Testing Lab working group meeting - which includes learning more of this Android phone that's going to replace my dead laptop today. Amazing, actually, I remember the Osborne machine of 30 years ago: integrated keyboard, 25x80 char display, dual floppies, CP/M, and no larger or heavier than a small suitcase - luggable computing. And while Swype is nice for texting (and blogging) I predict it will no more replace mechanical keyboards than did the blocky capacitive keyboards of the early 80s.

But I digress. During the BACnet committee meetings in Atlanta three weeks ago folks mentioned the hotel soap cakes with the centers cut out. Obviously a move to cut the waste of unused soap (are there laws regarding the disposal or recycling of used soap cakes?), but it looked odd. The Westin has a better solution: thin cakes of green soap in the shape of a leaf. How green.

On to the meeting...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Future Alerton ad?

Alerton's sales conference has a future theme element. I was amused to see this ad in today's "daily" -- looks good, Larry!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Dead in the water

Traveling. Dead laptop. Soon no data signal. Oh well.

Update: Surprising what you can do with an Android phone!

Friday, November 5, 2010

New blog photo

Frequent visitors to this blog will no doubt notice a change to the photo on the right. I've never been happy with the previous photo but it took a combination of:
- buying a taller tripod,
- being home and in the office,
- a camera that shoots in RAW mode (saves the unprocessed image captured by the camera sensors),
- time of day when it's dark outside,
- the office across the hall having its lights off,
- and time for manual photo post-processing
in order to get a better picture for the blog. This is what you'd see if you stopped by the BAC Cave.

"If It's Fall This Must Be Atlanta."

The latest issue of ASHRAE Journal's supplement, "BACnet Today," and subtitled "The Standard That Never Sleeps," is out and readable online.

With a great commentary by BACnet committee chair Dave Robin, titled "If It's Fall This Must Be Atlanta." If only it were that simple; in a teleconference today I was trying to remember whether I'd participated in a Smart Grid document review last week -- but that memory was keyed on where I was last week and I couldn't remember. Outlook says it was Atlanta, the second of three visits this fall. I'll be back week after next for the plugfest, following the Alerton sales meeting in Virginia.

It looks like there are some interesting articles in it (then there's mine). If you're an ASHRAE member (it's only available to same), it should be worthwhile reading.

A new job for the resumé

Another day and the air-handler still isn't fixed. We've had to open a number of doors for ventilation, which is helping downstairs but not up. As I am camped out in the Small Conference Room with a clear view of the hallways from the lobby entrance I now have an additional job: Hall Monitor.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Importance of V

This was the view from my temporary office this morning, across eastern Redmond to Education Hill, when today's BACnet Testing Lab working group teleconference began, first in the day's lineup. (I am in the imaginatively-named "Small Conference Room," so as to distinguish it from the "Medium" and "Large" conference rooms.) A beautiful sunny autumn day out there.

At lunchtime I stepped out to the library to finish next week's powerpoint because I needed more room to spread papers than the little table here provided -- and was quite sorry I'd worn a jacket, much less long sleeves. The fall colors said it had gotten rather cold while I was away, but today it was a beautiful sunny and warm autumn day out there.

So why a temporary office, with blinds that need to be readjusted as the lighting outside changes (unless I just close them)?

It's all due to the 'V' in HVAC: Ventilation. As in, we haven't had any since the little background hiss in the BAC Cave quit yesterday morning and didn't come back on. The air-handler bearings had failed. And there began a lesson about buildings for many of us here at Alerton and Trend.

This building is like many built in the early 90s: no operable windows, no natural ventilation, and few doors. Without Ventilation we have neither Air-Conditioning or Heating. (Except in one area.)

Despite that, the heat buildup yesterday wasn't too bad (other than for me in the BAC Cave). But it was warming noticeably on the second floor, which has no outside openings.

Today was worse, thanks in part to the stronger sun. Perhaps the CO2 levels are up too, because some folks are complaining of headaches. (I've often wished I had a CO2 meter, especially for when the airline turns off the cabin air when we reach the gate -- and leaves it off! I also wish I knew what ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 161-2007, "Air Quality within Commercial Aircraft," says about that odious practice.)

Hopefully the air-handler will be fixed by morning, providing us with blessed Ventilation (and Heating or Air-Conditioning, if either is needed).

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Not so very green...

I'm speaking next week at the Alerton International Sales Conference in Virginia, delivering an abbreviated version of my talk on energy efficiency publications (standards, rating systems and design guides) and building automation systems. I wanted to update it with a new version of one of my source publications, so I started the usual routine of identifying material by printing out the publication -- to be followed by a long session with highlighters and Post-Its (to flag pages).

Unfortunately it's a "locked" PDF and as I learned once again, you lose a lot of control with a locked PDF. Once upon a time (25 years ago) I would have printed such a document "4-up" (4 pages per sheet, double-sided) but my eyes are no longer that good so I set it to simply print double-sided. But no, even that isn't possible; all I could get was one sheet per page, single-sided, and a big enough stack of paper that it will require its own binder for storage.

At least this publication doesn't have the word "green" in its title.

Monday, November 1, 2010

You're traveling too much when... (#2)

You return to the office and your supervisor sports a beard he didn't have the last time you saw him...

Friday, October 29, 2010

Georgia Tech T-shirts

Apparently BACnet Chairman Dave Robin made a comment this week about attending Georgia Tech and all he go was a shirt. As a result, Coleman, Stuart, Mike and Carl bought t-shirts from the bookstore and all wore them today.

I think it was Stuart who said, "And they only cost us five dollars!"

(Thanks to Steve Karg for the photo!)

BACnet meeting - last day

Today is the last day of the autumn BACnet meeting, with a bit more than an hour to go. I was bit late due to having overslept (I hate alarms, but if I overslept I needed it -- and to tell the truth my health hasn't been the best this week).

I arrived just in time for the conclusion of discussion and vote on an Interpretation Request I'd submitted last week pursuant to a short discussion on the BACNET-L e-mail list week before last. (Note to Guillaume Girard: you will have to store both forms.) This leaves an issue on the table for a more general discussion, but that will be for another time.

It's been a good meeting, but somehow it seems that we've not accomplished as much as we could have. Perhaps that's because the comments from the just-concluded public reviews took up a lot of time.

One thing I noted yesterday -- the tables in these meeting rooms are on wheels and there are lots of power outlets on the floor. This would be a perfect facility for the North American plugfests!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hot off the press!

I've been watching for it for a week or two and today it became available: ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2010 (downloaded PDF):

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Long day over

It was a long day, but I mnuddled through. And it went mostly as planned, beginning with a breakfast discussion about the Application Profiles working group, followed by 2 hours of Objects & Services (who grabbed the "ad hoc" time in order to review more comments), then the Smart Grid group.

After lunch I had a Smart Grid teleconference that pulled me away for an hour and a half, but didn't re-connect with the meetings because these were co-worker Stuart's areas and I had to get going on a powerpoint (energy talk, revised and reformatted) due next week.

Then it was pouring rain when we returned to the hotel, then off to dinner a while later. "Cocktail party effect" blasted my ears, but they're recovering already. Back in the room now, resting up for tomorrow with Objects & Services all morning, a one-hour kickoff of the restart of the Application Profiles group, and the beginning of the plenary session ending Friday noon.

Chairman Dave Robin said that ASHRAE's public review procedures have changed in ways that will help us. I will have to get details. Tomorrow.

Standards... and more standards [energy efficiency]

One of my talks these days is "Energy Standards and Energy Efficiency" (what standards say about how to save energy and money with your building automation system). It covers several ASHRAE and Green Building Institute standards, LEED and other green building rating systems, the ASHRAE Advanced Energy Design Guides and the ASHRAE Green Guide -- and nearly every strategy I've heard so far can be found in these documents.

One problem I have these days is keeping the talk up to date, not to mention adding additional sources such as the U.K. BREAAM green building system, which I gather is the "grand-daddy" of them all. (Those not available in English I have to pass over -- sadly, or maybe not because there are so many national rating systems!)

But ASHRAE recently announced the imminent publication of 90.1-2010, "Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings", a major revision of the 2007 version I've referenced in earlier talks. I have approval to purchase and it's (still) due late October. It will be a scramble to incorporate it into the powerpoint due the first week of November.

Then yesterday I received a new draft circulated to my ISO technical committee, ISO/WD ("Working Draft") 16484 Part 7, "Building Automation and Control Systems — Part 7: BACS impact on the energy efficiency of buildings". (ISO 16484 Part 5 is better known as BACnet.) Could anything be more spot on? Sure, it's only a working draft and is likely to change quite a bit before it gets to publication, but I anticipate some interesting reading.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Busy day

It's not a good sign when a group of us BACneteers meet up for a beer (or whatever) then dinner, but none of us have much energy for anything but to get dinner and crash. And it's only been the second day of five.

But it's also been a pretty busy day. TI (Testing & Interoperation working group) polished off responses to comments on three public review addenda in only 20-some minutes (I am certain this is a record, though there were few comments submitted!) and spent the rest of the morning reviewing and revising two more addenda, containing proposed new tests for the BACnet testing standard, ASHRAE 135.1. Believe me, reviewing standardized tests is a VERY dry and exhausting process.

Not sure what was happening in LA (Lighting Applications) next door, but it sounded like they were experiencing the standards creation process to its fullest extent. (I do not have a report, but hope for white smoke.)

In the afternoon LSS (Life-Safety and Security) were extremely quiet. Not sure what they were cooking up, either, but I'm sure they'll let us in on the secret in due time.

On my side it was a death's march of working group meetings, starting with the MS/TP LAN folks and a very intriguing proposal for new work that involves other standards organizations (I am most interested, but do I have time?). This was followed by the IP (Internet Protocol) group and discussions of IPv6 and more -- though I was out of the room for much of it.

I donated time to IP from EL (Elevators working group) for them to address more work items, which worked out because we finally cleared a major hurdle with the Elevators proposal and in only 35 minutes. (Thank you very much, Christoph, for breaking the logjam!) The work ahead is all on the BACnet side of the Elevators proposal -- the elevator companies have been silent for a few months now on their review.

NS (Network Security) wrapped up the day, but I do not know what they were doing because I was busy writing up and circulating the EL-WG minutes.

If all this sounds exhausting, well, it was.

And the longest day is still ahead of us. It starts with a 7AM hotel restaurant breakfast to discuss new directions for AP (Application Profiles). Following it are meetings of LA, OS (Objects & Services), SG (Smart Grid), and IT (Information Technology) and XML (XML) working group meetings. The way the chart is drawn I'm not sure if the last two are separate or combined meetings.

And when that all wraps up, we still have ahead our traditional committee dinner (no-host) together.

All I have to do is to make it to Thursday...

Monday, October 25, 2010

Big bag of regrets

The day-long Objects and Services Working Group session has been spent reviewing public review comments already received on three addenda concluding public review: Addenda ac, ad and af. As committee chairman Dave Robin remarked this afternoon regarding the voluminous Addendum af, "This addendum is a big bag of regrets" -- stuff we would have liked to have had done back in 1995.

Thunder, lightning, objects and services, oh my...

Beautiful day in Atlanta today. The Objects & Services Working Group leads off the week's meetingsi (albeit in unfamiliar surroundings -- the rooms in this Georgia Tech building we've met in for so many years are no more), reviewing responses to public review comments on proposed changes to the BACnet standard. Somehow the pouring rain interspered with lightning and thunder almost seems an appropriate backdrop.

Last day of public review

The public review comment persiod for a number of proposed changes to the BACnet and its associated testing standards closes at midnight EDT tonight. What's up:
Addenda to Standard 135-2008:
Addendum ac: The (proper) Usage of Dates and Times
Addendum ad: Miscellaneous set of changes
Addendum ae: Tweaks to BACnet physical access control
Addendum af: MANY changes, especially major extensions to BACnet alarms
Addendum ag: Two miscellaneous changes

Addenda to Standard 135.1-2009:
Addendum e: BACnet/IP tests
Addendum f: Test Ack Notification timestamps
Addendum g: Add and change tests
Addendum h: Alarm tests
Addendum i: Improve/update/clarify/add tests

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Up early (3:15 AM) to begin the trip to Atlanta for the BACnet committee meetings this week. Pretty uneventful until I got to the hotel -- or tried to. It's surrounded by the "Taste of Atlanta" event this weekend. It took a long walk around and unwitting entry into the event via an overlooked and unguarded entrance to get to the hotel.

Normally I'd pay for entry, wander around and enjoy the last hour and a half of Taste of Atlantga (it's sunny and warm to boot) -- but my stomach is very upset. Even looking out the hotel room window I see the event. Too cruel.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Energy conservation

Interesting point made in the panel session "C&I and the Smart Grid -- The Realities of Building Automation" (moderated by Honeywell HBS' Paul Orzeske) just now. In a facility of one panelist's company dimmed the lights 30% to reduce demand, and nobody noticed. SO the immediate thought was to go for permanent reduction, but that loses them the ability to gain the utility benefits for shedding the load on demand!

On the other hand, the panel is noting that "employee education" is very effective at getting employees engaged in conserving energy.

This follows on comments earlier in the conference that positive examples help too. Which I find interesting: when I moved into the BAC Cave I turned off the ugly overhead fluorescents and used task lighting instead. Now several other folks (with exterior windows) on my floor are tending to work without their overhead lighting.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Gridweek Day 2: Consumer Engagement

Today's overall topic is "Consumer Engagement" -- how to engage the consumer in this process called the Smart Grid. As noted by Anto Budiardjo (GridWeek producer) this morning, consumers generally don't think about electricity. And Smart Grid has to be a positive factor in their (our) lives or it simply won't go.

Much of what has been touted as "Smart Grid" has not been well thought out or considered, and misperceptions abound. A couple of months ago I caught up with an old friend, a Seattle-area radio talk show host, and mentioned that I was working on the Smart Grid. "Oh, that thing where they'll come into my house and turn off the A/C," he responded. When I explained that that was one model but that what I was working towards was a system that would provide information to the consumer and let him make the decisions on power usage, he became more interested.

It should be an interesting day ahead, with three different tracks on this topic.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Monday at GridWeek: International Collaboration

My focus today is on international collaboration on the Smart Grid, the topic of the initial roundtable discussion, and continuing with the day's "international" track. As noted in the discussion, in order for this effort to succeed internationally, we need standards. It was noted as well that we don't know what the end state of the Smart Grid development will look like; different things are being done in different parts of the world and may be adopted elsewhere.

This effort is certainly getting the attention of standards organizations. This morning while riding the escalator up to the meeting floor, a woman ahead of me turned around and exclaimed, "I saw your tweet last night!" She turned out to Gabriela Ehrlich, Head of Communications for IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission), a standards body with which I am familiar though I don't work much with IEC standards (yet -- they have a sizable body of established standards applicable to the Smart Grid). Including her IEC colleagues I met this morning, they had coverage from Europe, North America and Latin America.

The current panel session, "Smart Grid Implementations -- International Overview" features representatives from the U.S., Europe, Asia and Russia. As just noted (live), different countries are developing technologies according to their various needs. Hopefully we can all integrate this for unified global development.

Afternoon update: Networking among the exhibits during the breaks:

Sunday, October 17, 2010

GridWeek 2010

Arrived here in D.C. (the "other" Washington) a few hours ago for the GridWeek 2010 conference this week, representing Honeywell (but not the only one doing so). I have my tracks selected, and it looks like a busy though interesting time ahead.

In the hotel this evening I saw a lot of folks who somehow look like they're here for this conference. I may get some confirmation tomorrow.

Update Oct 18 AM: Setting up...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Oh, for an archivist

We had a little bit of discussion this week on BACNET-L over the Scale property of the Accumulator object, which provides value and datatype for scaling the object's output. The problem is that it could be an INTEGER or REAL value -- and somebody with an INTEGER application quite reasonably didn't want to support REAL.

So I thought I would dig back into the history of this object, which started around 2000 with similar proposals from the IEIEJ (Japan) and Europe. Unfortunately, the two proposed objects were similar enough that the committee wanted them merged. A couple of mergers and separations later (this from memory), all agreed that the similarity was merely superficial and we had two distinctly different objects: the Accumulator and the Pulse Converter.

But where the Scale property came from, well, I didn't recall it being in the original proposal from Japan.

I went back and looked in my personal proposals archive. Nothing! But fortunately, sometime around 2005 or 2006 I had become annoyed by the ever-growing old proposals archive on the FTP site (for one thing, it slowed down synchronization efforts) and took the time to sort proposals by year and ZIP them -- 2001, 2002, 2003, etc. And that proved really handy for researching the history of this proposal, at least at the granularity of year of filing.

Now there were revisions of the proposal missing, but I was able to piece the history together well enough for a discussion, if not for a absolutely definitive answer as to intent.

But the ZIPped archives end at 2005 -- and I know why: I didn't have time in subsequent years (or at least enough empty time to try to fill it with archival operations). I'm certain that for Dave Robin, current chairman, it's probably worse.

So, unless we get a volunteer to be our BACnet archivist, things won't change. (What? Not me! I may have achieved what Steve Bushby once described "Chair Emeritus" as being "the utter nirvana of being totally useless" but I'm way too overloaded right now with Smart Grid. Ask me again in, oh, three years or so?)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

You're traveling too much when... file 5 expense reports in one day. It would have been 6, but the receipts envelope for one trip was at home.

Plugfest Deadline Oct 15th

Tomorrow, October 15th, is the deadline to register for the North American plugfest in Atlanta, November 16 - 18, and it is also the deadline to reserve a hotel room at event rates. (Click here for details.)

Miss this one and you'll have to wait six months for the European plugfest, tentatively slated for Saarbrücken, Germany.

I don't remember when I first attended a BACnet plugfest; I have no records of the event. I think it was sometime around 1997, which would also place it before the website's News Archive begins.

The first mention of a plugfest on is of the BACnet Manufacturers Association first plugfest, in 2000, held in Steve Bushby's lab at NIST.

It's come a long way to this:

I've long recommended that manufacturers of BACnet devices come to these plugfests -- including manufacturers relatively new to BACnet, and especially with devices that are still in development. It's far less expensive to detect mistakes and misinterpretations earlier rather than later, and you'll find a friendy, cooperative environment. We all win when BACnet gear just works together.

Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

All Quiet on the BACnet Front

Hm. Blogspot tells me I've used this title before. Oh well, it's true. I'm not sure what's going on but when our most prolific writer of change proposals (not to mention commenter on same) remarks that he's completely booked, I believe him. And there has been very little eother activity beyond working group conveners announcing their meetings during our autumn BACnet meeting week after next at Georgia Tech. Perhaps they're loading their cannons with extra powder and double-shot (sailing ship reference).

As I've noted recently, the Smart Grid (SG) effort has been chewing up much of my time. I was reminded this evening of a relatively small SG work item (hour or two, I think) I had volunteered for but which had not made it onto my ToDo list and was nearly forgotten. (Said ToDo list is maintained in my weekly report e-mailed to my supervisors whom I rarely see, so it carries a bit of weight.)

And if the SG effort wasn't enough I got called away to HQ for meetings that will have me busy the majority of this week.

But at least it's nice here in Minneapolis, when I do get outside. Warm, sunny and colorful; most unlike Seattle in autumn. Though I do wish they'd dim that sun a bit; it's hard on my troglodyte eyes.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Elevator Up(date)

It's frightening how much time the Smart Grid effort requires. I've concluded that we're trying to do too much in way too little time and it's only a matter of time until our continued pushing on this rope will lead to a tangled snarl.

But despite that I finally managed to free up a few hours last week to work on the BACnet Elevator proposal, per my notes from the summer meeting, to circulate responses to questions from the meeting and investigate what seemed like it could be a reasonable approach to the "timestamps in Un/ConfirmedCOVNotificationMultiple" notification services issue with which some BACneteers were having trouble -- but as it turns out, that approach gets very ugly very fast.

An e-mail to the EL-WG, addressed to the BACnet side of the working group, was sent out Friday. We'll see what happens. I have heard nothing in months from the elevator manufacturer side of the EL-WG, so it appears that all we have to do is reach a consensus on the BACnet side and the proposal can go to public review.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

BACnet Hats

High up on a cabinet at the rear of the BAC Cave is a row of BACnet hats. Thanks to the good folks at BACnet International I now have a "complete" set of sorts on display.

The first BACnet hats were passed out by ALC back in the 90s. Reading's News Archive it it was in 1999 that they gave out not only caps but jackets (I still have one) that read: "BACnet - A Force to Contend With." Those caps have been traveling the world and in thew BACnet News Archives you'll see them in various locales from the north of Norway to Japan to many other places.

I expect my colleagues will add to the collection from the upcoming ISO/TC205 meeting in Sydney! (Here's your challenge, guys -- this photo is of a real hat on a real camel. Can you bring back a photo of one on a Kangaroo?)

Next was BIG-EU's celebration of its tenth anniversary with its "10 Years of Success" cap (and VERY well put, I'd say!). I wasn't able to attend that event but they kept a cap to give me later. Very much appreciated.

Now I can complement that with a BACnet International cap! Thank you, Sarah, Natalie and the rest of the good folks at BACnet International.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Show's over (and Awards announcement)

At least for me -- said my goodbyes, headed to the airport and am now doing what I do best: waiting to board the flight home.

BACnet International's Leader of the Pack Awards were announced as follows:

St. Bernard: KMC
Rottweiler: Grant Wichenko
German Shepherd: Dave Robin
Labrador: David Fisher
Jack Russel Terrier: ALC
Howler: Tom Hoffman (?my hurried scrawl is hard to read, will double-check later)
Foxhound: Carrier
Alpha Dog: Mike Wilson

And last but not least:
Best of Show: All the BACnet volunteers who make it happen.

Now my plane is about to board. Later...

Update 10/07: Grant Wichenko (left) receiving his well-deserved Rottweiler Award from BACnet International president Andy McMillan. Congratulations!

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Trip From Heck

Sigh. It wasn't supposed to be this way. On paper it looked so easy: no 3 or 4 AM arisings to begin the journey, I could sleep in until 6:45 AM. A short two hour flight to Salt Lake City, a two-hour layover followed by a one-hour flight to Las Vegas, arriving over two hours before the BACnet International members' reception began. Nice and easy -- except that it didn't work out that way.

Now I am not complaining: every Road Warrior has far worse stories than this to tell. Heck, every Road Grasshopper is likely to have worse stories than this! But the sheer number and types of problems were most unusual.

Hitting just a few of the highlights, we boarded the flight to Las Vegas in time and were all ready to go -- except that we didn't have anyone to fly the plane. Our pilots were still in Las Vegas, held back by weather. (We did have a Southwest pilot on board, deadheading I guess, but when this issue came up he split and we didn't see him again.) So we had to deplane, only to reboard an hour later when word came that our pilots were in the air. And there we waited until they arrived, went through their inspections and checklists and we departed. For a rather bumpy ride that had the attendants seated some of the time.

In terms of getting to the reception (there were folks I wanted to chat with, to catch up on things), scheduled from 6 to 7 PM, I was still in good order and left the airport in a rental car at 5:30. (A taxi would have been better, but I have offsite business tomorrow.) At full hour later I finally made it through Vegas traffic to the hotel just a few miles away (I might have been able to walk it in that amount of time), only to learn the hotel's free parking is the opposite end from the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), where the reception was. An old foot problem is re-asserting itself but I made the long hike with backpack and (light) bag, only to find the walkway to the LVCC occupied and blocked by a huge Kawasaki reception. (I agree with my wife -- I should have a Harley!)

A few more issues ecountered and resolved, plus a plaintive cellphone call to Natalie (B.I. office director) to let in a few of us who'd gathered outside the LVCC's locked doors about 6:45 PM, and... we were there! (Though I felt really bad about the LONG hike she had to make to let us in.) Reception went overtime but this was A Good Thing!

Although more "issues" started cropping up again after the reception (most but not all of which are resolved), at least for the duration it was all good.

Including Sarah Jackson, who immediately set about brightening things with her laughter, a BACnet International hat, and demonstrating for my camera the effect of a single beer.

Sarah, Sarah, Sarah... if you're going to hang around with BACneteers you need to learn to drink beer. At least two beers in an evening. So here's looking at you, kid. (Say, Sarah, that doesn't look like a beer in front of you... ;^)

The serious stuff starts tomorrow at the Facilities Decision conference -- with some fun mixed in as well. From what I can see this conference looks to be even better than last year's.

And if you're attending (why are you online instead of prepping?) be sure to say "Hi!" to Sarah for me!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Upcoming Plugfests

Heads' up: Deadlines for the B.I. autumn plugfest November 16-18 in Atlanta are a couple weeks away.
BIG-EU's spring plugfest is tentatively set for May 9-13, 2011, possibly in either Vienna, Austria or Dortmund, Germany. More as it develops.

Hope to see you there.

Update: Looks like it will be in Saarbrücken.

Facility Decision's Leaders of the Pack awards

Well, this should be a fun event! I received an e-mail announcing Facility Decisions' Monday evening reception AND BACnet International's Leaders of the Pack award ceremony Tuesday (Oct. 5, Exhibit Hall, 3:30 PM). The awards and descriptions are as follows (click on the image for larger version):

Oh darn. I vaguely remember receiving an e-mail about nominations, but it came at a time when my Inbox was overflowing daily with Smart Grid e-mails. I wonder if I can find it in order to nominate David Fisher for the Rottweiler Award.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Addendum on the Luce(rne)

Shortly after the exchanges noted in the preceding posting, I received the folloowing e-mail with a photo from our dinner cruise last week:

Hi Bill,

have to say that no addendum gets lost because of you.... but what the heck, what addendum were you shooting?


Well, Teemu, I'd like to say it was the latest effort to "socialize" new proposed changes to the BACnet standard, something like this proposed Addendum 135-2008ag:

But I won't.

The Hazard of Change

To borrow a term I hear a lot in the Smart Grid world, it seems those of us on the BACnet Committee aren't doing enough to "socialize" changes, mostly additions, to the standard. This became clear today with an exchange today on the BACNET-L email list.

John Arwine (just a short ways down the road from here) noted that he was working witha new BACnet controller, one of the first BACnet devices from its manufacturer. The documentation for the device identified it as having Analog Variables, Digital Variables, and Integer Variables. He hadn't heard of the last and asked the list whether this was a defined BACnet object type.

I responded:

Yes. If you look at Addendum 135-2008w (, you will find:
12.G Integer Value Object Type
12.H Positive Integer Value Object Type

This was published early this year.

And it was. It didn't take me long to dig out a copy of the addendum because I knew what I was looking for, even though I no longer keep all the BACnet addenda letters and their contents mentally correlated.

With 33 addenda, Addendum a currently through through ag, and many of them coompilations of miscellaneous unrelated changes, it gets difficult -- especially when I'm putting in a LOT more time these days on work on the Smart Grid than on BACnet.

But at least I knew where to turn and what to look for. The description of the contents of Addendum w is unusually terse, both in the addendum and on the web page, saying only "135-2008w-1. Add more primitive value objects, p. 2." This could be easy to miss if one were looking for "Integer Variables."

So we're making these additions, but not getting the information out to our users as well as we should. This is not a good thing.


Committee chair Dave Robin had a good response too (sparing me the necessityof a followup, thank you Dave!), noting that the terminology being used by the manufacturer was nonstandard. For many BACnet oldtimers the use of "unofficial" terminology provides a warning that something might be misinterpreted.

Quite possible in this case where a "Integer Variable" might be a new Integer Value or Positive Integer Value object, or it could be a Multi-state Value object.

So now John has a new task, to find out which of these object is intended -- if it's not a proprietary object!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

How to read large BACnet Arrays

There's some very active discussion going on in the BACNET-L mailing list about how to read arrays that are too large to fit in a single APDU when segmentation isn't supported. The solution, as Frank Schubert pointed out this morning, is to be found in the BTL Implementation Guidelines (for download), to wit:

3.4 Be prepared to read the Object_List array element by element

Some small devices that do not support segmentation have Object_List properties that are too large to transmit unsegmented. If a device needs to read another’s Object_List property, be prepared to read it array element by array element.

This could be a little slow for clients reading the Object_List of devices with thousands of aobjects, however. There was discussion of a proposal before the committee to use ReadRange to read the array in "chunks", rather a bit less tedious, but a little quick research revealed that the committee tabled that proposal (vote: 1-8-4) in the spring meeting last May.

But the initial question that started this discussion posed a thornier problem: a physical access control device with hundreds of thousands of objects. Even segmentation will not help here because the segmentation counter would have to wrap. (Perhaps someone can research the language change that would allow that to occur?)

Reading the Object_List of one of these devices, array element by array element, would take quite some time. Using ReadPropertyMultiple to read by "chunks" would seem to be the best available solution at this time. At least unless and until the tabled proposal is brought back up.

(Note to implementers of such large server devices: be sure you can locate the last element of the Object_List quickly -- I have seen implementations fail to respond to such read requests before the client timed out because the server's linear search algorithm took too long.)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Didn't get the memo

Back when I began this blog, Marketing thought it would be a good idea to add a little bit of "social networking" along with it and suggested I sign up on Twitter (and, because the corporate firewall blocked Twitter), despite my protestations that "Swans don't tweet!"

Often when I posted on this blog, particularly for technical matters, I would sent out a (co)tweet right away -- the Marketing folks loved it.

But no more. Now the corporate firewall also blocks CoTweet. I wonder how long until Hmmmm hm hmmmmm meets the same fate; I guess IT didn't get the memo that some of this activity is corporately sanctioned. Or maybe it isn't official enough.

Oops: Turns out IT didn't do a thing. Some(?) of the firewall is "externally" managed and they were the ones to re-brand CoTweet. One of our IT folks checked the log for this month -- two accesses (one successful, one not) so we don't have a usage problem. And I am betting both accesses were mine. Now working with IT to get access.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Awright, who's the wag?!?

It's long been customary in the Alerton facility that if you're going to be away during regular work days you leave a Post-It note on your door stating, at a minimum, when you intend to return to the office. I usually leave more but because I had multiple destinations I just left a note saying, "Back 9/23."

When I returned I discovered that somebody had modified my note to read "Bac 9/23."

Very funny.

[For the non-native-English-speaking readers of this blog, the title is American slang for "All right, who's the joker?]"

Update: I suspected Johnny, but it turned out to be Dean.

Dinner Cruise

Looking up ship prefixes, there seem to be none for the famed Swiss navy -- or other Swiss vessels, for that matter. So the Titlis, named for a nearby mountain, will just have to be called by that name alone. (I believe that's Mount Titlis behind the ship in the photo.)

The surprise, when I saw the final agenda for the BIG-EU meeting in Lucerne this week, was that we would have a cruise with dinner Monday evening. This had been discussed for the group dinner, but when the Executive Board got the price we canceled it -- there was no way such an expense could be justified. So when I saw a cruise on the agenda I surmised that perhaps it was a cruise sans dinner or some such.

Nope. It was announced that day that three companies present in Switzerland had gotten together and jointly sponsored this most unforgettable cruise and dinner for the BIG-EU.

What else can I say but "Thank you!" to Saia, Sauter and Siemens. Switzerland was beautiful and pleasant enough already (I hope to visit again sometime), but this was the icing on the cake.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

So long, Roger

Old-time North American BACneteers will remember Roger Braun (on the right), who had attended meetings at least from the kickoff of SSPC 135 in June, 1996. His last appearance in the minutes is in March, 2001, where it is noted what he would be resigning from the committee, his position as liaison to the European committee CEN/TC 247 to be taken up by René Quirighetti (recently retired).

He has done a yeoman's work for some time since as BIG-EU's Treasurer. But his employment has become such that he's now had to resign from BIG-EU and disappear completely from the BACnet world. But I hope that if/when BIG-EU returns to Switzerland, whether for meetings or plugfest, he'll put in an appearance.

So long and good luck, Roger.

Monday, September 20, 2010


The BIG-EU autumn meetings are underway here in Lucerne, Switzerland, starting with meetings of the technical and marketing working groups, followed by elections for the Executive and Advisory Boards, and on the second day a meeting of the joint Executive and Advisory boards.

The biggest topic on all the agendas is universal BACnet "certification" -- long a thorny topic due to differences between the systems in Europe and North America. But significant progress has been made. On the other hand, in meetings of the SGIP's Smart Grid Testing & Conformance Committee last week it appears that the North American certification scheme will soon change to become more like the European scheme.

Friday, September 17, 2010

BACnet Committee autumn meetings announced

Earlier this week BACnet committee chair Dave Robin announced the autumn meeting of the BACnet committee, to be held October 25-29 on the Georgia Tech campus in Atlanta, Georgia. As he notes, "This year we again have a block of rooms reserved at the adjoining Georgia Tech Conference Center Hotel, but room reservations should be made by September 24 to receive the greatly reduced rate."

The meeting schedule of the working groups and the plenary follows. (The working groups and their functions are defined here.) As always, the meetings are open to all interested parties. I expect an official announcement to appear on the BACnet website shortly -- though if you want details before then contact me.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Fortune Cookie

After lunch during the SGIP meeting today I had dessert -- something rare for me. Pineapple upside-down cake and a fortune cookie? Okay...

The fortune within fit so perfectly I had to add it to my badge (at the bottom):

Smart Grid PAP17 working group kickoff

(Click on the picture to enlarge it.)

Today the SGIP's PAP17 ("Priority Action Plan 17") working group kicks off with its first meeting.

Subtitled "Facility Smart Grid Information Standard" (in this context "facility" means "building" and primarily refers to commercial and industrial building consumers of electricity), it will operate in parallel and in part as a feeder to the ASHRAE/NEMA SPC 201 committee, named "Facility Smart Grid Information Model," which had its kickoff meeting 2-1/2 weeks ago.

All of this is part of the high-speed effort to develop the Smart Grid, our part being the consumer end of the Grid. There are many other groups representing the producers, distributors, transmission line operators and a surprisingly large number of other parties involved in the generation and delivery of electricity. There's a diagram floating around somewhere I will add when I find it.

Found it. (Click to enlarge.) Please note that this diagram is a simplification of the real picture. For example, the "consumer" is not only residential as shown here, but includes commercial and industrial buildings.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Smart Grid meetings begin

I'm in St. Louis MO for the autumn meeting this week of NIST's Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP), complete with a sea of working group acronym soup including
PAPs ("Priority Action Plans" -- things needing to done soonest; I'm on 9, 10 & 17)
DEWGs ("Domain Expert Working Groups"; B2G or "Building to Grid")

You can see the agenda here. We are currently in the initial plenary, where we're getting updates about the progress of the SGIP -- now with 1700 members! But the work is also becoming more international, working with other countries; the goal being to have one Smart Grid (system) worldwide.

Autumn BACnet Public Review is open

In all the travel preparations (final prep for this and next week's travels, booking eary October trips plus travel requests for two others late October), I nearly forgot that on Friday ASHRAE began the autumn public review of a LOT of material for the BACnet standard (135-2008) and its testing standard (135.1-2009).

There is a lot of material to be reviewed, some of it in process for years, and more of it receiving many, many "committee-hours" (or rather, days!) outside of the regular comittee meetings in development. If you are a BACnet developer I strongly recommend you review these materials! And of course, submit comments if you have any. They are online as PDFs at

A quick rundown of what is in public review is as follows:
Addenda to Standard 135-2008:
Addendum ac: The (proper) Usage of Dates and Times
Addendum ad: Miscellaneous set of changes
Addendum ae: Tweaks to BACnet physical access control
Addendum af: MANY changes, especially major extensions to BACnet alarms
Addendum ag: Two miscellaneous changes

Addenda to Standard 135.1-2009:
Addendum e: BACnet/IP tests
Addendum f: Test Ack Notification timestamps
Addendum g: Add and change tests
Addendum h: Alarm tests
Addendum i: Improve/update/clarify/add tests

This public review is open from Sep 10th through Oct 25. I highly recommend reviewing these addenda and comment if you see anything (anyone can comment, by the way) -- if comments are not received they are automatically deemed to be acceptable to the public and made part of the standard; this is a final check on the work of the committee.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

BACnet International Journal published!

Ever since I finally let go of all my electronics magazine subscriptionss (Electronic Design, EDN, EE Times, etc.) I've become a little lax in checking my mail slot at work because the mail volume has dropped considerably. But I checked it this morning and there was a package from BACnet International, containing a copy of the first issue of the new BACnet International Journal. Nice.
Take a look. (BTW, on p. 3 is a form where you can request a free subscription.)

Saturday, September 4, 2010


One of the interesting aspects of compiling the information for my Facility Decisions energy standards talk were the apparent inconsistencies in requirements and recommendations across the standards, guidelines and rating systems I reviewed (14 publications in all). For example, in LEED individual lighting controls are to be provided for 90% of building occupants; the exception is 50% in LEED for existing buildings -- though there's likely a good reason for that exception.

When it comes to turning off exterior lighting during the day, though, ASHRAE 90.1 says to use a combination of photosensor and time switch, or astronomical time switch. GBI 01-2010 says to use a time switch, photosensor or astronomical time switch. ASHRAE 189.1 doesn't care how you do it, just turn off the lights within 30 minutes after sunrise.

For CO2 sensors and demand-controlled ventilation (DCV), ASHRAE 90.1 says to use DCV for large, densely-occupied spaces. GBI 01 specifies regularly-occupied spaces (it defines "regularly-occupied") with occupancy variation >= 30%. LEED specifies it for densely-occupied spaces. And ASHRAE's Advanced Energy Design Guide for Small Offices says to use DCV in varying AND high-occupancy areas.

The list of inconsistencies goes on, including on alarms for ventilation system performance variation, the dampers to be used in air economizers, what water uses are to be metered or submetered, and so on.

Perhaps this isn't surprising. Some requirements are based on experience while some are speculative. Some of the differences are probably the result of independent publication development or disagreements with other requirements.

But nearly all of these documents are relatively new, having just been published within the last three years. I expect that with time and experience they will converge towards very similar recommendations or requirements.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Deadline: Facility Decisions

Tomorrow is the deadline for submitting powerpoints for the upcoming Facility Decisions Conference*, October 5-6, 2010, in Las Vegas. Once again I'm racing to meet deadlines with my talk "Energy Standards & Energy Efficiency -- with BACnet." (So why on earth am I writing this now, except that I need a break?)

Although this is based on the talk I gave at the Building Performance Congress in Frankfurt last April there is new material to be added, revisions to be made, and a LOT of slide and text formatting to be done. I hope to finish it tomorrow so I don't have to beg to have the Labor Day holiday weekend to complete it.

(* The conference is free, by the way. I found last year's to be educational; why not consider attending?)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

SPC 201 committee is now underway

ASHRAE/NEMA SPC201 ("Facility Smart Grid Information Model") wrapped up business at 11:58 this morning -- two minutes before scheduled close of meeting. I didn't know that was permitted.

It was interesting to chat afterward with folks new to the ASHRAE standards process. Yes, in many ways this was a typical standards meeting, with the committee spending hours (if allowed) to wordsmith a single sentence, and frequently with discussions dominated by a few participants with the rest observing.

But we came away with working groups defined, conveners volunteered (usually voluntarily), and volunteers to work on the various groups, as follows:

1. Smart Grid use cases and requirements
2. Terminology definitions and model development
3. Conceptual diagrams and definitions of customer facilities
4. Refine white paper (communicate what we're doing to the rest of the world)
5. CIM vs. 61850: definitions and background info. (Advisory group)

(I'm on #1 and 4.)

We have an aggressive schedule ahead, with lots of working group teleconferences, but if this meeting is an indicator we have a good chance of delivering on time.

BACnet - Lon Interoperability

Photo courtesy of and quoting ASHRAE/NEMA SPC 201 co-chair Sharon Dinges:

Proving, once and for all, that BACnet and Lon can "play nicely" on the same network and effectively communicate!

(Dave Robin - Chair, ASHRAE BACnet & Jeremy Roberts - Technical Director, LonMark International)