Monday, June 6, 2011

From the family

Dearest BAC Cave readers:

The family of Bill Swan regrets to inform that he passed away Saturday June 4th at John Muir Medical Center in Concord, CA. His illness was unexpected, but his passing was peaceful and in the presence of his family. He is survived by his parents, his wife Kathleen and two daughters.

A memorial service is scheduled for all who would like to attend, Wednesday, July 6th at 11 a.m. at St Bartholomew's Anglican Church located at 14821 Avondale Road NE, Woodinville, WA 98072.
From the bottom of our hearts, thank you all for your kind words and well wishes.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

An Internet Address for Every Light Bulb

An interesting story here about the increasingly pervasive Internet, in this case individually controlling lights.  Consumer-oriented it seems, and at least they have thought about security issues, but it's not clear that it will be integrate well, if at all, with a commercial building automation system or, worse, with an energy management system as described in a Smart-Grid-related whitepaper from the EIS Alliance, titled The Customer Energy Management System (CEMS) for commercial, residential and industrial buildings/consumers.  I invite you to take a gander (look) at the paper.

Watching the development of BACnet's lighting control extensions, it's clear to me that while one can easily do "On -- Off -- %FullOutput", there is a whole lot more to lighting control than can be conveyed via a simple Android app.  And that's even before you try to go beyond individual control of each lamp -- think about lighting up the house on the way home from the airport, or at least the path from the garage to the bedroom (so I don't have to to flip switches with both hands full of luggage).  There aren't enough stoplights between SeaTac airport (SEA) and home for me to turn on the requisite set of lamps remotely, one by one, enroute.

What these folks are doing is something to watch, certainly, but it doesn't seem to me to be the full answer.

And I hope their power control devices are more robust today than the X10 devices sold in the early 1970s; the vulnerability of the old X10 semiconductors (SCRs/Triacs) to filament-lamp-short failures is the main reason I've never installed X10 in any of my residences.

Plug(fest) 'n Play

(Or "Bowling for BACnet")
It wasn't all work during the BACnet plugfest in Saarbrücken -- the organizers arranged an evening out for the group at a nearby bowling alley. Something quite different from previous plugfests. From the pictures it looked like it was fun, but I had to bow out due to jet lag. (Many thanks to Frank Schubert for the report, title suggestion and photos.)
But now it's over and I'm back in the office (for a couple of days) with reports to write. It's not close to a major airport but I would not be unhappy, though, if we returned to Saarbrücken for the next plugfest -- or a BIG-EU meeting.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Romantische BACnet

I have to admit, the North American BACnet plugfests, aka "LAN-parties" or "Interoperability Workshops" where representatives from BACnet manufacturers bring their devices (existing, new or still in development) to test with each other in a closed, cooperative and constructive environment, have been nothing like the one this week in Germany.

I will admit up front that, like most Americans, I had never heard of the city of Saarbrücken in northwestern Germany. The travel guides I read barely even mention it; all I heard was "a city in the industrial Ruhr valley," so I didn't expect much. And difficulty in sleeping upon my arrival (leaving this Seattleite "Sleepless in Saarbrücken" -- but it's my fault) didn't improve expectations.

Was I ever wrong.

I had little time to tour, and from this point on it's (almost) all business, but I truly enjoyed my short walking tour around the old town yesterday, with at least a few photos of Saarbrücken with which to remember it. I hope sometime I will be able to return, better prepared.

But that's over and now we're deep into the plugfest testing at the Handwerkskammer des Saarlandes (Saarland Chamber of Crafts -- a great facility, by the way: spacious and comfortable). It's a serious event so, because many of us are competitors, we have to lighten things up a little.

One new jest centers on the general conduct of the event: the testing teams are paired up, two by two, and for a couple of hours test their products together. The tests start with a simple "Can my device see yours on the network?" and (usually) quickly progresses to more testing sophisticated interoperations involving setting up time schedules; trendlogging data; configuring, issuing and acknowedging alarms; and more. But this pairing is now called "speed-dating."

But an important part of plugfests is to foster a spirit of cooperation, and so it frequently includes a friendly dinner together for the entire group.

Frank Schubert noted last evening, following the day's "speed-dating" our intrepid band of BACneteers had settled down to a romantic ("romantische") candlelight dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant.

But now it's early morning, we have another day of "speed-dating" ahead of us, and I must go prepare. "Tschüss" (bye).

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Casting our nets wider

Recent BACnet committee meetings, and this one especially, are highlighting the interactions across varied areas of technology and knowledge. The arena of IT and Internet Protocols (adding support for IPv6, for example) is one area potentially very broad as we search out our direction -- even our terminology is changing rapidly; just minutes ago BACnet-IT was jestingly renamed to BACnet "New Transport Binding" for the latest session's presentation on a demonstration project, based on the discussion & recommendations in the preceding session in the IT Working Group meeting. But this was to be expected.

A bigger surprise came in yesterday's MS/TP LAN working group meeting, on a discussion on expanding the maximum frame size for this low-cost LAN from 501 bytes to 4096 bytes. This technology has been around for some time and well understood - we thought. But IEEE's Kerry Lynn surprised me (at least) when he revealed that increasing the frame size 8-fold would increase the error rate a thousand-fold!

He referenced studies on CRC algorithms from Dr. Philip Koopman (online here), noting that there's a frequent assumption that "other have done their homework" in areas such as this, when in fact they might not have. Characteristics of the CRC-CCITT and other polynomials have been investigated; the following plot shows one result. Kerry will be providing guidance in this area.

"Energy Conservation in Existing Buildings" in public review

ANSI/ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 100-2006, "Energy Conservation in Existing Buildings," is out for advisory public review until May 25th. (I downloaded a copy just before leaving the office last week.) "Advisory public review" means the cognizant committee is seeking input from the public for updating the standard.

The questions cover a broad range of issues including lighting upgrades and payback periods, commissioning (much potential here, thinking possibly of the International Green Construction Code, which provides an extensive set of specifics related to commissioning), and weather (question below), which is a current topic of discussion in our "buildings" corner of the federally-directed Smart Grid development.

Click here to learn more, and for a link for reviewing and submitting comments.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

BACnet Committee in San Francisco

The BACnet Committee's spring meetings are underway in San Francisco, meeting in the Pacific Energy Center -- a facility that appears to be primarily engaged in energy-efficiency education, but also some research.  One of our meeting rooms seems oriented to demonstrating HVAC controls (but with a sign warning folks to leave the sensors alone because a research project is underway).

Thus far the meetings have been heavily focused on comments on proposed changes in recent public review, but other interesting discussions are getting underway, discussions on significant advances in BACnet. 

Friday, April 29, 2011

BACnet-2010 is published!

Hot off the press, BACnet-2010 is now available, in PDF or paper copy.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

BACnet Committee meetings next week

It's not too late, if you're interested in attending.  The BACnet committee's spring meeting will be held May 2 through May 6 at the Pacific Energy Center, San Francisco, (next to the Moscone Convention Center). Working groups will meet Monday morning through Thursday morning, and the plenary session Thursday afternoon and Friday morning, as shown below. (The acronyms for the working groups are explained here.)

See you there?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Smart Grid Virtual Summit 2011

Recently I applied to be a speaker at the upcoming Smart Grid Virtual* Summit 2011 this June, talking about "Customer Energy Management Systems (CEMS)."   These are very different animals from what the utilities also call "energy management systems," hence the "Customer" designation adopted by the EIS Alliance for their whitepaper on the same.

It appears my application has been accepted.  This will have to be on the agenda when the EIS Alliance folks meet here later this week.

* "Virtual" means it's all conducted online; a benefit considering I'm not sure where in the world I'll be about that time.

ZigBee Smart Energy Profile 2.0 review about to close

I just received a notice about the ZigBee SEP 2.0 documents posted for pubic review (here) and went to download them -- forgetting I had already done that in response to the initial announcement in March.  Still haven't looked at them -- and the review period closes tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

BACnet preparations

With the BACnet interim spring meeting just a week and a half away, it's time to make sure everything is ready to go.  Looking over my proposal, WS-068, "Elevator Monitoring in BACnet," I found a few minor editorial corrections needed (indentations and text colors), revised them and sent them off to Dave Robin, committee chair, for inclusion in tracking documents and the appropriate meeting folders.

The "companion" (or derivative) proposal, WS-093, "Elevator Structures in BACnet," should give the Application Profiles group something to think about.  Their work for so very long has been on how (and what) to model for standard building automation devices such as variable-frequency drives and VAV controllers, but this proposal presents something different:  How to group a number of objects (Lifts, Escalators, Elevator Groups and so on) into some kind of a traversable hierarchical system that could span across devices or larger entities.

(Think "City of Hong Kong" -- "Building 123 Main St" -- "Tower 5" -- "Elevator Group 3" -- Lift 2" and you might get an idea.)

It could be a fun time in the meetings week after next.

And then I'm off to Saarbrücken, Germany, for the European plugfest the week after.  

Almost ready for that too: today I registered the Alerton devices I'm bringing with the Customs and Border Protection folks, down at the King County International Airport in Seattle.  (Until this week I didn't even know we had a "King County Airport," much less an international one!)  The officials didn't seem impressed by all the advanced BACnet technology embedded in the little plastic boxes on DIN rails.  And they didn't seem like they wanted to hear about the increased comfort and lower operational costs these little boxes could give them, or what the Smart Grid would soon do for them, or... 

Oh, well.

Mark that date (BACnet Academy London)

Right on the heels of the BACnet Forum London came the announcement of the BACnet Academy London to be held October 25, 2011.  Details soon to be available here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

LEED for Healthcare approved

The green building newsletter world lit up this week with the announcement that LEED for Healthcare has finally been released.  It addresses aspects of healthcare facilities that were not well handled by LEED for New Construction.

Reportedly among its prerequisites are minimizing the use of potable water for cooling medical equipment, and "eliminating mercury" (does this include a prohibition on CFLs & fluorescents? -- I guess I will have to wait to see).   For the latter, I learned a new acronym we'll no doubt see more often, and not just in new LEED systems:  PBT, for "Persistent Bioaccumulative [or] Toxic" chemical.  Plus there is a new prerequisite:  removal or encapsulation of hazardoous materials.

Looks like I will have more new reading ahead, including the UK's BREAAM Healthcare along with the US'  LEED for Healthcare.  It will be interesting to see if there are elements to be included in future energy talks.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Nice photo

Thanks to my friend and colleague Frank Schubert, who has a good eye, a photo in front of the Thames last week.  Almost as chilly as back home in Seattle, but without the hail, sleet and snow.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

BACnet Forum London

BIG-EU committee meetings ended yesterday. Now at the BACnet Forum London, delivering my talk "Energy Standards and Energy Efficiency."  I don't have numbers but the turnout seems to be quite good and the interest level high.

Monday, April 11, 2011

"Travel to exotic locations..."

Big Ben (and the other major sights might be only a mile west of today's meeting of the BIG-EU
Executive and Advisory Boards, regarding BIG-EU business, but one would be hard put to tell it from here.

I usually finish the quote in the title with "... and sit in hotel meetings rooms." Though technically this meeting room is not in a hotel, it's a distinction without a difference.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

New BACnet addenda in public review (3/25 - 5/09)

The announcement is probably buried deep in the email that accumulated while I was away the last couple of weeks, so I just learned that a new set of BACnet addenda have just gone out for public review, beginning March 25th and ending May 9th. These addenda are as follows:
Addendum 135-2008ae, 2nd PR (public review)
- Physical Access Control, Access Door object, new enumerations for Door_Status and Lock_Status properties

Addendum 135-2008ak, 1st PR
- Define explicitly-required ranges for Device Instances and MAC Addresses
- specify 'abort-reason' for specific situations in Clause 5 Transaction State Machines
- Add a Serial_Number property

Addendum 135.1-2008j, 1st PR
Addendum 135.1-2008l, 1st PR
Addendum 135.1-2008m, 1st PR
Addendum 135.1-2008n, 1st PR

- Improve, clarify, revise, generalize, correct, update, replace and add tests

Addendum 135.1-2008k, 1st PR
- Add new manual MS/TP tests
Most of these, obviously, modify the BACnet testing standard, ASHRAE 135.1-2009, and thus are most likely to be of interest to BACnet manufacturers.

This is, possibly, the last opportunity for the public to review and comment on these proposed changes. If no comments are received, public acceptance is assumed and they will be published as additions to the standards. You can review and comment here.

BACnet Forum London -- still time to register

There's still time to register for the free BACnet Forum London next week, April 13th. Click here, and see you there.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

SGIP meetings underway

The Spring meeting of the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel is underway, beginning with the Governing Board meeting this morning. Leading off with reports from electric utility organizations and the White House.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Smart Energy public review

Just what I needed -- more documents in public review to be read. The ZigBee Alliance just announced another public eview Of its Smart Energy Profile v2.0 (announcement at link, with links to documents). Something to read aboard the airplanes next week, I guess, but it'll be interestung to see what changed.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

European Plugfest is a GO

...for me, at least. The word came down yesterday morning that I am to represent Alerton at the European plugfest in Saarbrücken, Germany. As noted on BACnet International's (B.I.'s) BACnet Events Calendar, this will take place May 11th through the 13th.

It was difficult to figure out how to arrange this, since the BACnet Committee meetings were tentatively scheduled the following week, traditionally leading off with the testing-related working groups (B.I.'s BACnet Testing Labs working group and the BACnet Committee's testing & Interoperation group). For those of us from North America this posed a problem; we could not fly home from Europe until Saturday and then we would have to turnaround and fly out (to San Francisco) on Sunday for the start of meetings Monday. It can be done, but back-to-back trips like that are risky, and we'd all be heavily jetlagged besides.

But last week BACnet Chairman Dave Robin changed the meeting dates to May 2 through 6, and this changed the whole picture. For my part, I will be able to fly home from the meetings Friday afternoon, spend Saturday & Sunday at home, and fly off to Europe on Monday (arriving Tuesday for the plugfest beginning Wednesday). East Coast folks attending both will have it a little more rough, at worst with only Sunday spent at home.

So I now have to fill out and submit the application, and start arranging my trip.

But it will be good. The plugfests are always interesting affairs. They're closed to the public to help foster a spirit of cooperation between groups who compete in the open marketplace (in the world of BACnet interoperability, we all win when our devices work together). There is always something to be learned, even for companies such as Alerton who have been BACnet for a very long time. And for new BACnet companies and new development teams, there is a lot that can be learned from others about the downside of making assumptions when developing.

As a participant in these events since sometime in the 90s, I have long urged all BACnet manufacturers to come and participate in these plugfests. The European plugfest is held every other year in the spring, the North American every year in the autumn. Nobody has ever, I think, come away without at leats one or two surprises.

The deadline to apply is tomorrow; if you are even considering attending I recommend sending an email ASAP to the BIG-EU Office, requesting a copy of the Invitation and Registration Form.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

When Models Collide not a book by Wylie and Balmer, made into a movie in 1951 with a remake underway, though I am sure that's a lot more exciting than the conundrums (conundra? the word is not definitively Latin) facing the ASHRAE/SPC 201 ("Facility Smart Grid Information Model") committee this week.

Our four Rapid Development Teams (Load, Energy Manager, Meter and Generator) are meeting to compare and align the models we've been developing for these four areas, the underpinnings of the entire "Facility" (residential, industrial and commercial buildings) model that represents the end consumer of the electricity generated and conveyed by the electric grid. These models are necessary for working out the details of the data communications that will alter the ways in which energy is generated and consumed, for greater energy efficiency and make best use of existing infrastructure.

This is not an easy task. For example, the image here is a (UML) diagram of a draft of the Energy Manager model -- as one can see this is no simple model. And drawing the lines between models is not easy either; if one were to look close up one would find elements of the Load model (electric loads -- those that must remain on 24/7 and those that can be reduced or turned off if need be) engrained in it.

On top of that, these models being developed were built on initial use cases, models and data elements drafted by the Energy Information Standards Alliance (aka EIS Alliance) over the last year and a half. This was to provide a structure that would allow various models developed independently to be more readily harmonized.

But even that wasn't perfect, as this diagram seems to show (but to be fair, an extra couple of "load classes" were accidentally slipped into an energy manager model, though this wasn't revealed until a detailed analysis was performed of the alignment between two models regarding loads.

We have our work cut out for us.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Mark your calendar

BACnet Committee Chairman Dave Robin just announced the spring meeting of the BACnet committee. For the second time ever, an "interim" meeting (i.e. spring or fall) of SSPC 135 will NOT be on the East Coast. (The first time was in 2002 when it was held here in Redmond, courtesy of a local BACnet manufacturer.)

The meeting will be held May 2 through May 6 at the Pacific Energy Center, San Francisco, (next to the Moscone Convention Center). Working groups will meet Monday morning through Thursday morning, and the plenary session Thursday afternoon and Friday morning.

Hmmm... since it will be difficult for East Coast folks to get home Friday at a decent hour, I guess they'll have the afternoon and evening to tour.

But I found this statement from the Pacific Energy Center interesting:

"The Pacific Energy Center offers educational programs, design tools, advice, and support to create energy efficient buildings and comfortable indoor environments. Most of our efforts are focused around commercial buildings..."
I hope I can get a tour.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


The results of the ballot for Smart Grid SGIP Secretary were announced this morning, and along with several other candidates I'm off the hook. This is a bit of a relief, actually, because it's becoming more clear that this year is probably the one in which I'll make the most technical contributions. I am free to continue to do so, but running again next year is still on the table.

We will have a runoff ballot between two candidates starting at noon today. Both are excellent candidates and it will be difficult to choose.

Monday, March 14, 2011

One week remains for BACnet public reviews

As noted early February, there are 3 BACnet addenda in a 45-day public that ends in a week. These are as follows:

Addendum 135-2008ad: an 11-part addendum of miscellaneous changes.

Addendum 135-2008af: a 32-part addendum (this is a record!) of miscellaneous clarifications, improvements, changes and extensions. Most changes are to BACnet's alarm generation system, resulting from several years of "Alarm Summit" meetings.

Addendum 135-2008aj: Add backward-compatible support for IPv6.

You can download and comment on them here. Anyone can comment; you do not need to be an ASHRAE member or a member of the BACnet committee to submit comments.

I strongly encourage BACnet technical folks to review these proposed Addenda for any issues that the committee might have overlooked. If they conclude public review without comment, they will be deemed to be approved and will be published as part of the BACnet standard.


The Latest issue of BACnet International's "Cornerstones," a free monthly industry newsletter, is out. If you haven't already, I might recommend subscribing.

Through this issue I learned that, sadly, I'm not going to be at this year's Facility Decisions conference in Las Vegas, scheduled for October 11-12. At that time I anticipate being in our BIG-EU meetings in Rome instead, and particpating in our BACnet Forum Rome.

In this issue BACnet International made a call for speakers for the conference, with session title and summary/learning objectives, by March 21st. This should be an opportunity for some. For me it's a pity, because I had been looking toward a new talk pulling together energy (efficiency), Smart Grid and BACnet, though I plan to still pull together material for this and am continuing to update "Energy Standards and Energy Efficiency."

If you're at NFMT in Baltimore this week, do visit BACnet International at Booth #1383 and say hi.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Low-level churn

I had been thinking things were unusually quiet in the BACnet world, but an email Sunday changed that. When I was committee chair I tried to at least keep the pulse of the activities of all our working groups, though there was too much for one person to actively participate in everything. I may have dropped off some working group email lists, though I don't recall actively unsubscribing, and generally I haven't been paying attention to groups in which I'm not actively involved, such as Lighting.

But yesterday Dave Robin sent out the latest draft of a proposal to the IT working group. The part of the Subject line I could see in the Outlook pane grabbed my attention with the words "experiment" and "Atom" (processor?) in it. I just had to see what was going on so I opened it. First item, he was addressing both the XML and IT working groups, and I've not been involved much there. Then I saw the attached document included "New BACnet-WS Services" in the name, opened it and... Holy Cow! These folks have been BUSY! It would take quite some time to digest all this.

After that I went back through my emails and saw other groups have been busy as well. The spring meeting is going to be an interesting time when all this work bubbles up.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Over 500 BACnet Vendors IDs

The site notes that the number of issued BACnet Vendor IDs has now passed the 500 mark. The graph showing the growth is worth a look: check it out.

One of FIVE!

Jeny Dowlin, on the SGIP Administrator Team, just sent congratulations to the SGIP Secretary nominees -- all five of us! It looks like a good slate of candidates too, so maybe I can relax. We're being given an opportunity to review and revise our bios before tomorrow's general announcement, so I won't name names.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Engineering Week

We're at the tail end of the 2011 Engineer's Week and at lunch today at Alerton we had a little competition ("Edible Cars Contest"), open to all. Won by the women in Marketing for range past the launch ramp and vehicle durability. (Sorry, guys!) Photos and details later.

But while exploring some music videos this evening we came across a recording of Frankie Armstrong singing a Peggy Seeger song, Gonna Be an Engineer, that I remember from sometime way back when.

When I was in college, women engineering students were rare; a decade ago in China I was stunned to see that half the engineers there were women. But things are changing here. So, in the spirit of Engineering Week, I dedicate this posting to elder daughter Beth, bona-fide and degreed engineer in her own right, and younger daughter Heather, on her way.



I was talked into throwing my hat into the ring to be secretary of NIST's Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP), formed in response to the Energy Independence Security Act of 2007 to define and develop the Smart Grid.

That is a major effort, as one can see here.

In the last meeting, in December, it was announced that the SGIP now had 634 member organizations (572 US, 28 Canada, 34 elsewhere), represented by 1750 individuals.

I am warned this is no small task; if elected, the time required will mean I will have to give up some other committee assignments, if only for the year's term (not renewable) for this assignment.

And writing my bio for this nomination was, um, interesting. The three decades spent at NASA and developing embedded systems are over -- just a quick overview of my participation on various industry committees' executive boards took a paragraph.

But maybe I'll be lucky and there will be other nominations. The current secretary is a really tough act to follow.

If there are, please vote for the other guy, okay...? [grin]

Thursday, February 24, 2011

I guess that was inevitable... tough economic times, cities are still building "green" but are foregoing the label (LEED). Story here.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tough week

I'm in a training class this week, and have to say it's not an easy go. There is a tremendous amount of material to absorb in four very full days before The Test, and between that and a battle with the state legislature (trying to keep some legislators from making an expensive mistake -- I read bills much like I do BACnet change proposals: what can go worng???), there isn't much left over. I might get to my work email in the evenings but that's about it; by 4 PM I've been approaching "dead in the water."

On the other hand I think I am "done" with Olympia for the week, or maybe they're "done" with me, so now I can focus more on the class.

The class material is fascinating. I've long had one perspective on solving certain building automation issues, and now I am seeing a second -- similarities and differences.

I'll be back when my brain clears...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

BACnet International AHR Expo presentations

I just received the latest email edition of BACnet International's newsletter, Cornerstones announcing, among other things, the availability of the powerpoints from the BACnet International sessions at the AHR Expo last week. Take a look.

This is great for me because I was so tied up with BACnet and Smart Grid meetings I wasn't able to sit in on the others, only catching the tail end of Steve Tom's "BACnet to the Rescue: Interoperability Saves a Troubled LEED Project."

(And ahem, I have one up there too. If you download and find it useful, drop me a note.)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Speaking of journals...

I haven't been keeping up on the publication of the various BACnet Journals, so I was a little surprised when I received a copy of the latest BACnet Middle East Journal in the mail today.  Very nice!

(Not related, but I've been working on a very curious BACnet routing issue and had hoped to post before now, but I need verification of one surmise first.)

Friday, February 4, 2011

BACnet International Journal 2

Early this week I was handed an "advance" copy, hot off the press, of the second BACnet International Journal (page link). I checked with the good folks at BACnet International and learned there's a PDF online.

It's an excellent publication; from amongst the wide variety of topics and authors (truly international in scope with its mix of North American and European authors) I highly recommend David Fisher's "BACnet: To Be is To Grow" perspective on BACnet and its standard.

And while you're there, I would suggest signing up for BACnet International's newsletter, Cornerstones.

BACnet Addenda begin public review

3 BACnet addenda begin a 45-day public review today. These are as follows:

Addendum 135-2008ad: an 11-part addendum of miscellaneous changes.

Addendum 135-2008af: a 32-part addendum (this is a record!) of miscellaneous clarifications, improvements, changes and extensions. Most changes are to BACnet's alarm generation system, resulting from several years of "Alarm Summit" meetings.

Addendum 135-2008aj: Add backward-compatible support for IPv6.

You can download and comment on them here. Anyone can comment; you do not need to be an ASHRAE member or a member of the BACnet committee to submit comments.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The really fast track

Some years ago a change proposal of mine set a record for being fast-tracked: reviewed for the first time in a working group early in the meeting, it was voted for publication formatted as a public review addendum before the end of the meeting.

Pulling together the pre-publication drafts of the addenda about to be published, I discovered a new record had been set.

Now the usual process for getting a change proposal published used to be to have it reviewed and approved in a working group, then reviewed and approved for inclusion in a poublic review addendum, then an official vote for public review of the assembled and formatted addendum (which contains 1 or more change proposals).

However, I could not find Addendum ah anywhere in my meeting files. As best as I can tell it was seen and revised in a working group, then sent to the entire committee and voted for publication review as an addendum, the (editorial) formatting to be subsequently applied. This went so fast that the committee never saw the addendum draft -- the next time it appears in the record, it had been published.


Monday, January 31, 2011

Las Vegas Wrapup - Published

The winter BACnet meetings have come to an end (the Smart Grid meetings continue), after 4-1/2 days and the committee chair now has a boatload of new work on his plate, processing documents approved or revised by, or submitted to, the committee -- not to mention trying to get BACnet-2010 published.

We received a report during the meeting that four new addenda have been approved by ASHRAE for publication. These are:

Addendum ab: MS/TP Baud Rates

Addendum ac: Using BACnet "Date" and "Time"

Addendum ag: BBMD B'cast Storms, and trend-related BIBBs

Addendum ah: Remove ReadPropertyConditional service

If you're developing BACnet devices that use the MS/TP LAN, use BACnet "Date" and "Time" for anything, use "Annex J" BACnet/IP, or are contemplating using the ReadPropertyConditional service, you should read these when they're published.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Missed meetings

I had had a day full of meetings planned, but it's not working out at all as I had planned. The morning's series of IP, IT and XML working groups would have been interesting, but due to another last-minute meeting I was only able to be present for the last 15 minutes. The series was clearly of interest to many folks, especially those working on the Smart Grid -- all the chairs were taken. (This photo shows a half or so of the people.)

This afternoon will be much the same; pulled away a half-hour into the first session. But I'll have to draw the line at the BACnet Elevators working group meeting I'm conducting at 4 PM.

And sometime I hope to have enough time to gather the materials for the first of the announcements from these meetings.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Did we just miss an anniversary?

Waking up this morning (yes, it's that early and no, I'm not always thinking about things BACnet though sometimes it seems like it) I realized it's been 15 years since the introduction of BACnet to the general public at the AHR Expo of 1996 with an interoperability demonstration involving several manufacturers. I took a quick tour around and and saw thing. Hm.

Maybe it's just that so many of the old guard have moved onwards and upwards.

BACnet testing, day 2

The Testing & Interoperation Working Group (TI-WG) met in the Las Vegas Conference Center to follow on the work product of the BTL-WG, reviewing and approving 5 proposed addenda (comprised mainly of tests developed within the BTL-WG) to the BACnet testing standard (135.1-2009) for review by the entire committee.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

11 years of BACnet testing

It's hard to believe how far we've since the initial launch of the BTL-WG In January 2000. Its mission: to develop a BACnet testing program to counter the FUD ("Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt") of "They say it's BACnet but is it REALLY BACnet?" With a testing program that kicked off years ago with the simplest devices and now extending to the most complex controllers and workstations, we've come a long way.

Not that we're done, by any stretch. Many of the tests we've developed are being rapidly rolled into the BACnet testing standard; others are being reviewed and revised. And we have our work cut out in merging and unifying the testing and process between the two BACnet teting labs.

The committee's numbers have never been large: today's meeting with 14 members, from Europe and North America, is pretty typical.

But today's meeting was notable for the fanciest location yet, in the Vdara Hotel & Spa in Las Vegas (a LEED Gold building) -- although this picture didn't quite capture that.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"Saving the Smart Grid"

I'm trying to prepare for the upcoming five days of BACnet meetings, but the Smart Grid keeps intervening. Somehow I wound up on a mailing list called "Public Utilities FORTNIGHTLY," which is a very interesting and educational look into the world of the energy utilities. This morning's issue has an article I found an interesting read, "Saving the Smart Grid: Hype, hysteria and strategic planning".

Now it's back to the BACnet Elevator proposal, scheduled for 4 PM Sunday (the Elevator and MS/TP working groups just switched meeting times a few minutes go).

Friday, January 21, 2011

"Why American utilities will overpay $2 billion for smart meters"

Thanks to today's CABA Newsbrief I saw an article with the above title (click on the title to see it all), beginning:

Why are American utilities spending twice what the Europeans do for smart meters? Why aren't they using joint standards and joint procurement to achieve economies of scale and drive down prices?

This screw-up will squander at least $2 trillion over five years. Who will foot the bill? As the old joke goes, one of three groups – ratepayers, consumers or taxpayers.

$2 billion may be understating things

Update: Francine has a great link in the comments.
An American friend working in Europe tells me the typical cost there is $40 per meter (plus $15 for the communications by the way). In America, he says, typical prices are $110 to $120 per meter (and about $50 for the communications). ...

Not 100% clear on what these "smart meters" do, other than communicate meter readings back to the utility in order to eliminate human meter readers.

One thing is clear: they're not "Smart Grid" meters. At least not the Smart Grid being developed by NIST's Smart Grid Interoperability Panel under White House direction. We are still defining the data and interfaces for residential, commercial and industrial buildings! So in a few years these meters might have to be replaced anyway.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Russian Standard

Things have been pretty quiet on the BACnet front, hence the long silence. Much of my work time is being spent on updating my "Energy Standards and Energy Efficiency" talk with voluminous new source materials, as well as wrestling with Powerpoint 2003 issues. The rest of my work time is spent in way too many teleconferences -- with today's BACnet-IT call almost missed thanks to a calendar disconnect between Outlook and the cellphone. And with our state legislature now in session I'm now busy off-hours watching them and trying to keep them out of trouble. So although Andrey Golovin had sent me a proposed draft of the cover of the Russian BACnet standard, I didn't get to it until today.

I think it's pretty cool. Even if I can't read much of it (but I can read more of this than I can of the Japanese, Chinese and Korean translations -- at least I can sound out a little of the Cyrillic alphabet; the first word is very obviously "Protocol"). I think Andrey said he's bringing a copy to Las Vegas; if so I will be very interested in seeing it.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

BACnet в Россию

I hope that automated translation is correct for "BACnet in Russian." Andrey Golovin, Executive Director of the BACnet Interest Group - Russia (BIG-RU) announced this morning that BACnet-2008 has now been translated into Russian, and that an agreement has been made with a Russian standards body to make BACnet a Russian national standard.

Congratulations, Andrey!

Friday, January 7, 2011

This has to hurt: "California County Bans SmartMeter Installations"

Just checked in on the Slashdot (techie) site and saw this:
kiwimate writes:
"Marin County in California has passed an ordinance (PDF) banning the installation of smart meters in unincorporated Marin. Among the reasons given are privacy concerns associated with measuring energy usage data moment by moment and the potential for adverse impact on emergency communication systems used by first responders and amateur radio operators. The ordinance also comments that 'the SmartMeters program ... could well actually increase total electricity consumption and therefore the carbon footprint,' citing 'some engineers and energy conservation experts.'"
The ordinance also mentions "significant health questions" raised about "increased electromagnetic frequently radiation (EMF) emitted by the wireless technology in SmartMeters."
Privacy is a big topic in the SGIP Smart Grid development effort, one not yet fully resolved, but this has to be an "ouch" for the folks involved.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

More material

Some discussions yesterday bumped my planned perusal of the "International Green Construction Code" (IGCC), now in its second public review, up in priority. A very interesting read -- it seems a little rough in places but I'll be submitting public review comments later. For now, though, its material aligns well with my upcoming energy efficiency talk and is in some areas more thorough than my 14 or 15 other sources.

I have been through it to flag areas to return to for specific items in my talk; tomorrow (between BACnet testing and Smart Grid teleconferences) I'll start in on the details.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Las Vegas meeting schedule

Committee chair Dave Robin mailed out the BACnet committee's meeting schedule, with room assignments, for Las Vegas later this month.

The cryptic working group acronyms are defined here; "SSPC" indicates the plenary sessions of the entire committee" and "BTL" indicates the BACnet Testing Labs working group, which is being arranged and announced independently. These are all in the Las Vegas Conference Center, next to the Las Vegas Hilton. As a reminder, the meetings are open to all interested parties.

If you click on the picture you'll get a larger, legible version.

Update 1/25: EL and MSTP have switched times. EL-WG will meet Sunday, and MSTP Saturday.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

All Quiet on the BACnet Front

My BACnet Gmail account, now subscribed to the BACNET-L list, has been amazingly, or unsurprisingly, quiet the past couple of weeks, though my cellphone alerted me to an e-mail from BACNET-L in the wee hours of Christmas Eve morning. I suspect that will end tomorrow as folks return to the office -- though I still have one more day of holiday to go.