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 Saarbr├╝cken, 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

..is 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 BACnet.org 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.