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 Saarbr├╝cken, 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!