The Freedom of BACnet

Nov. 21, 2005
BACnet open protocol is front and center at conference

The BACnet Conference & Expo 2005, held Oct. 23-25 in Nashville, TN, more than met its objective to educate end-users, mechanical system design professionals, and integrators on the benefits of the BACnet® open protocol.

The conference opened with an impressive keynote address delivered by the leaders of the Atlanta-based American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) BACnet Committee, the BACnet Manufacturers Association (BMA), and the BACnet Interest Group of North America (BIG-NA), discussing how BACnet is delivering “more freedom than ever.” During the keynote, Ron Sharpe, vice president of BIG-NA, had the honor of unveiling the plans of BIG-NA and BMA to merge and form BACnet Intl. According to Sharpe, those affiliated with BACnet will now converge in a single organization that has both producers and end-users; as a result, the process of translating new market needs from the end-user to real BACnet solutions from the vendors should accelerate.

Following the keynote address, more than 30 representatives from controls manufacturers and consulting engineering firms testified regarding their strong commitment to BACnet. During one of the general sessions, a panel of end-users and an integrator discussed how they apply BACnet to their sites. A session featuring an introduction to BACnet Web Services/XML informed the audience about BACnet’s ability to tie in utilities, financial systems, work order systems, and other enterprise-level systems into BACnet and share data between them for a more efficient, coordinated facility.

The entire exhibit hall was connected using Ethernet, and each vendor had the ability to demonstrate interoperability between BACnet devices. The high point of this interconnectivity was a live interoperability demo conducted by Grant Wichenko of Appin Associates. Six 42-inch plasma screens were lined up to display 12 BACnet front-end systems from Alerton, Automated Logic, Cimetrics, Delta Controls, Gridlogic, Invensys, KMC Controls, Lithonia, Reliable Controls, Siemens, and TAC, as well as BACnet devices from ABB, Veris Industries, and Viconics. Here, the audience was able to see BACnet and its five interoperable areas in action. During just a few hours of set-up for the demo, schedules were edited and calendars were created, objects were discovered, alarms were generated and distributed to every workstation, loops were displayed, graphics showed values dynamically updating, and devices were reloaded - all live and all on the fly.

A presentation on the future of BACnet by BACnet Committee Chairman Bill Swan featured the new BACnet objects that will soon go out for public review, including the structured view object and load control object, which is designed to aid with equipment load shedding. Swan also spoke of the working groups who are enhancing the standard in the areas of XML, network security, utility integration, lighting applications, access control, intrusion detection, CCTV, new IP technologies (such as IPv6 and BACnet HTTP), and the newly formed Inter-configuration Working Group.

Next, Jim Lee, past president of BMA, explained to attendees that BACnet is a tool that addresses the hottest concerns of building owners: continuous commissioning, enterprise energy management, enterprise management of building operations, and maintenance management.

At the close of the conference, Brady Nations of Johnson Controls offered a summary, noting that the BACnet standard is recognized by ASHRAE, ANSI (American National Standards Institute), and ISO (International Organization of Standards) and that the future of BACnet will be exciting, with “more freedom to come” for building owners.

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