Official Web Site of ASHRAE SSPC 135
This section contains previously released news items for your information. They are arranged with the most recent at the top, the oldest at the bottom.
|Old BACnet News - 2003
- Euro-Plugfest a Success (11/03) Stuttgart, Germany. According to attendees, the first European BACnet Interoperability Workshop ("plugfest") was a rousing success! Initated by BIG-EU and organized by the WSPLab testing laboratory in Stuttgart, the plugfest was held November 17-18, 2003. In all, 25 developers from 10 companies, organized into 11 teams, took part in the event. The companies, from both Europe and North America, were: ABB Gebäudetechnik, Alerton, Amann, Delta Controls, Honeywell, Kieback and Peter, Neuberger Gebäudeautomation, Fr. Sauter, Siemens Building Technologies, and Trend Control Systems. In addition to the commercial implementers, the plugfest was attended by a representative of the University of Applied Science in Dortmund, Germany, and 2 representatives of the Institute of Computer Technology of the Technical University of Vienna, Austria.
Testing was conducted between pairs of teams in 6 two-hour sessions, with a couple of three-team sessions towards the end of the event. The aim of the workshop was to test and improve the interoperability of the participants' BACnet devices and to discuss and resolve any problems found. As in the North American workshops, there were sometimes questions of protocol interpretation. Resolving these in the friendly and cooperative atmosphere of a plugfest is far preferable to trying to resolve such interoperability issues in the field.
All in all, the participants were quite pleased with the workshop, both in the organization and results of the event. "I commend WSPLab for their excellent preparations and facility," said Alerton's Bill Swan (also Vice-Chairman of SSPC 135), "from my
experience of these workshops this was first-rate." Given the positive feedback, it is likely that another such workshop will be organized in 2004.
- ISO/TC 205 Votes to Form Maintenance Agency (11/03) Copenhagen, Denmark. ISO/TC 205, Building Environment Design, held its 8th plenary meeting November 5-7, 2003, in Copenhagen at the Danish Standards Association. Among the resolutions approved by the TC were 2 that had been brought forward by WG 3, Building Control System Design, the working group responsible for the process that led to BACnet's adoption as EN ISO 16484-5 earlier this year. The first resolution proposed that the newly published companion standard to BACnet, ANSI/ASHRAE 135.1, Method of Testing Conformance to BACnet, be advanced to DIS (Draft International Standard) status and subjected to a parallel enquiry within both ISO and CEN, the Committee for European Standardization, as ISO/DIS 16484-6.
The second resolution proposed the formation of a "Maintenance Agency" (MA) to carry out the on-going maintenance of both standards, 16484-5 and -6 (BACnet and the BACnet testing standard). The advantage of an MA is that it can move more rapidly than the usual ISO and CEN processes and will allow the international standards to keep pace with any changes that are made to the corresponding ANSI/ASHRAE standards. Also, the members of WG 3 have agreed that proposals for changes to the standards from any of the ISO/CEN countries participating in the MA shall be made through ASHRAE's Continuous Maintenance process, thus assuring relatively speedy consideration and further expediting possible changes to the ISO/CEN standards. Countries represented at the WG 3 meeting were Austria, Belgium, Germany, Japan, Korea, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, and the USA. Both resolutions were unanimously approved by the full TC and will be passed along to the ISO Technical Management Board for further action.
- IBS Korea Hosts BACnet Seminar (9/03) Seoul, Korea. The Intelligent Building Society of Korea hosted a one-day BACnet seminar on September 18, 2003, in Seoul, the capital city of South Korea. In spite of the rainy weather, nearly 150 people turned out to listen to a full complement of speakers and to view the various product displays. Representing North America were Steve Bushby, Chairman of SSPC 135; Mike Newman, Past Chairman of the SSPC; and Raymond Rae, CEO of Delta Controls. Other speakers included Park Gwi Tae, President of IBS Korea and Hong Seung Ho, Professor at Hanyang University, former researcher at NIST, and one of the principal organizers of the seminar. In addition to the presentations on BACnet technology from a technical and standardization perspective, six vendors also presented the BACnet capabilities of their product lines. It was noted that South Korea was the second nation, after the United States, to adopt BACnet as a national standard, KS X6909, in the year 2000.
- 19 Companies Attend "Plugfest 2003" (9/03) Seattle, Washington. The BACnet Testing Laboratories' Interoperability Workshop featured 24 teams of testers representing 18 BACnet organizations, over a three-day session from September 16 -18, 2003. The largest such BACnet workshop held to date, it was attended by 63 participants from Alerton, American Auto-Matrix, Automated Logic, BTL, Cimetrics, Delta, Envenergy, Fieldserver, Honeywell, Invensys, KMC, McQuay, Notifier, Reliable Controls, Siemens, Teletrol, Trane, Trend, and the BIG-EU's WSP Lab. Participants came from as far away as India, the UK, and Germany.
The workshop conducted system interoperability tests, initially by pairing organizations together and later creating larger groups. The workshop was conducted in a controlled but convivial atmosphere, to discover and resolve any questions of protocol interpretation that might cause interoperability difficulties in the field.
Many participants were pleased with the results of the workshop. "This was a full year's experience compressed into three days," observed Trend's Graham Whiting.
- BIG-EU Announces Euro-Plugfest for November (8/03) Berlin, Germany. To promote product development and testing and to prepare for the BACnet demonstration at the upcoming Light+Building exposition next April, the BACnet Interest Group - Europe has announced plans to hold its own Interoperability Workshop on November 17 and 18, 2003. The Plugfest will be held at the WSPLab in Stuttgart, Germany. WSPLab is the organization selected by BIG-EU to work with the BMA/BTL in the development and deployment of BACnet conformance testing and certification in Europe.
- Register NOW for the BIG-NA/BMA Fall Conference! (8/03) Cincinnati, OH. The BIG-NA and BMA are pleased to announce their joint fall conference on October 5-7, 2003 at the University of Cincinnati. The conference, entitled "BACnet - Users Take Control!", will feature two presentation "tracks", one dealing with "basic" topics and one for "advanced" topics. In addition, there will be product demos and the opportunity to network with fellow BACnet supporters from around North America. For detailed information on the conference, please click here.
- BMA/BTL Announces Fall Plugfest (8/03) Boston, MA. The BACnet Manufacturers Association (BMA) and the BACnet Testing Laboratories (BTL) have announced the fourth BMA-sponsored BACnet Interoperability Workshop, to be held September 16-18, 2003 at the Radisson Hotel Seattle Airport, 17001 Pacific Highway South, Seattle, Washington. The workshop is open to all companies with products that implement BACnet, and other people who are actively involved in the BTL's testing activities at the discretion of the BTL Manager. There is no charge to participate in the testing for BMA corporate members and BIG-EU producer members; other companies must pay $1,500 to participate. For more info, please click here.
- BACnet Testing Standard 135.1 Published by ASHRAE (7/03) Kansas City, MO. The compatibility of systems and equipment with BACnet can now be tested with a standard approved for publication at ASHRAE's 2003 Annual Meeting held in Kansas City, June 28-July 2, 2003. ASHRAE Standard 135.1, Method of Test for Conformance to BACnet, defines the steps to test whether a product or application conforms to the BACnet standard and correctly provides the features claimed by the supplier.
To achieve this, the standard contains tests for each BACnet message type, function and networking technology, according to Steven Bushby, chair of the BACnet committee.
The standard will serve as the basis for BACnet testing, certification and product listing programs, he said. The first such program in North America has been developed by the BACnet Manufacturers Association whose member firms have formed the BACnet Testing Laboratory (BTL) to carry out the tests and administer a BACnet product listing program. The BTL has now begun testing of BACnet products.
The BACnet Interest Group Europe (BIG-EU) also is establishing a testing and certification program that should be in operation by the end of 2003, according to Bushby.
The BTL and BIG-EU are working cooperatively so that products tested by either organization can carry a common mark that will be recognized worldwide.
- BACnet to Implement Secure Networks (7/03) Kansas City. MO. SSPC 135 made significant progress toward developing an industry consensus on standards for secure building automation and control systems at its meeting in Kansas City. The Network Security Working Group reached agreement on a proposal to use a shared-key technology to create "secure networks" within BACnet. This proposal came after the group studied a number of network threats and vulnerabilities, and after conducting a survey of standard network security technologies including public key cryptography (such as RSA), Data Encryption Standard (DES) and Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption algorithms, and the IPsec and Kerberos protocols.
"These enhancements to BACnet should address the concerns of IT administrators who demand security strategies that make use of widely used industry standards," said Dave Robin, working group convener.
Members of the group also made plans to implement and test the proposal. Initially they will be using standard encryption technologies to "sign" BACnet messages to guarantee the authenticity and integrity of messages exchanged between devices communicating on open networks. The group then plans to extend the implementation to encrypt BACnet messages to make their content confidential.
- Working Group Deliberates Uses for XML (7/03) Kansas City, MO. Progress was also made in developing uses for XML in BACnet systems. The XML Working Group is drafting a method for using XML to exchange data between BACnet devices and the enterprise level using the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) and/or XML Remote Procedure Call (XML-RPC) technologies. "The technology could be used to retrieve data from BACnet systems using standard desktop software instead of specialized drivers," said Mike Newman, convener of the working group. As a first step toward the development of automated configuration of BACnet systems, the group is also developing a machine-readable device description language tentatively referred to as "XPICS" for "XML Protocol Implementation Conformance Statement".
- BACnet to Support More Languages (7/03) Kansas City, MO. In response to the growing international demand for BACnet, the committee approved a proposal to expand the character sets that can be understood by BACnet devices. This proposal adopts all character sets registered with the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), and the IANA's method of identifying each set, thus providing a world-wide standard for using the appropriate character set for any language.
- Public Reviews Completed for BACnet Addenda (7/03) Kansas City, MO. The BACnet committee also announced the completion of public reviews for three proposed addenda to ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 135-2001, BACnet -- A Data Communication Protocol for Building Automation and Control Networks.
Addendum a contains nine new BACnet features, the most significant of which enhances BACnet's capabilities to schedule the use of equipment.
Addendum c contains new features that include enhancements to the life safety objects and services and the ability to represent utility meters and other measuring devices that provide pulsed outputs.
Addendum d contains information on interconnecting BACnet devices with devices that use the European Installation Bus (EIB)/Konnex protocol. In Europe there is a large installed base of EIB/Konnex products and defining a way to carry out this interconnection was one of the keys to the recent success of BACnet in the ISO standards world.
- Working Groups Conclude Meeting at Montgomery College (5/03) Germantown, MD. Seven of SSPC 135's working groups met on the Germantown, Maryland, Campus of Montgomery College from April 28 to April 30, 2003. What follows is a synopsis of what was discussed and accomplished.
- Applications Working Group (AP-WG)
The AP-WG focused on a proposed "macro" or "equipment" object that would represent the characteristics of a variable frequency drive. Since the preliminary proposal only presented property names, it was decided that the meaning of each property would need to be fleshed out in the style of Clause 12 in order to make further progress.
- Lighting Applications Working Group (LA-WG)
The LA-WG spent most of its meeting discussing the characteristics of a "DALI object". DALI, the Digital Addressable Lighting Interface, is widely used in the lighting industry. DALI is a serial asynchronous master-slave protocol with each message only 2 octets long. The first octet carries the address, the second the command. A DALI object would provide a way of converting modifications to the object's properties using BACnet services into DALI commands for lighting control.
- Life Safety and Security Working Group (LSS-WG)
The LSS-WG continued to work on the development of several new object types that would be useful for security applications, specifically access control systems. The group was also briefed on conversations with the Security Industry Association. They are currently working on a possible standard for alarm panels to add to their existing standards for security communications, passive infrared detectors and digital video servers.
- Network Security Working Group (NS-WG)
The NS-WG spent most of its meeting discussing the details of a proposal to add a variety of security measures to BACnet, including new services to support both local password and system-wide Kerberos authentication, firewalls and confidentiality through encryption. Since the key to developing solutions (based on industry standards, whenever possible) is to identify the threat scenarios, considerable time was spent reviewing possible BACnet network architectures and ways to protect each of them. The question of "how much is enough" was discussed in some detail but not yet entirely resolved.
- Objects and Services Working Group (OS-WG)
The OS-WG reviewed and revised a number of proposals, including mechanisms to record and display communications errors encountered, a mechanism for advertising extensions to standard objects through the use of "profiles," and harmonizing the BACnet standard and its companion conformance testing standard 135.1P. A lengthy discussion on the Global Group object was also held.
- Utility Integration Working Group (UI-WG)
Besides making strides on the state diagram of the proposed Load Control object, the UI-WG dug into the issue of how to get information from the utility into the building control system and then to make that available on the network. A need was expressed for more input from the utilities on transport and message format issues. The suitability of using an object profile to give access to proprietary data structures holding the data from the utility was also discussed.
- Extensible Markup Language Working Group (XML-WG)
The XML-WG was briefed on the recent meeting of XML enthusiasts at the BuilConn conference in Dallas on April 23, 2003. They are considering developing an "XML/Web Services Guideline" for building controls under the auspices of CABA. Our meeting focused on possible applications of XML within the context of BACnet. Two such applications will be explored in the immediate future. The first will be an investigation of using the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) or XML Remote Procedure Calls to allow messages related to building automation and control to be conveyed via the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), thus allowing tools to be developed that would not have to understand the binary encoding of the underlying BACnet (or other) protocol in use at the controller level. The second application is the definition of an XML formatted "Electronic Protocol Implementation Conformance Statement" for a specific instance of a BACnet device. This could open the way for automating the engineering of a site by providing a common way of describing a device's configuration that could be then be fed in to potential communication partners.
For more information, or to participate in the discussion, visit our Working Groups link, select the desired WG and contact the appropriate convenor.
Addendum a to BACnet-2001 Concludes Public Review (4/03) Atlanta, GA. A 45-day second public review of Addendum a to BACnet-2001 ended on April 7, 2003, with the receipt of a single comment. The draft consisted entirely of "independent substantive changes" that were made to specific proposals contained in the first public review draft. Both drafts can be viewed by visiting our Addenda page.
ASHRAE Announces Public Reviews of Addenda c and d (4/03) Atlanta, GA. Two addenda to BACnet-2001 are now in simultaneous public review. Both Addenda c and d will be reviewed for 45 days, starting April 18 and ending June 2, 2003.
Addendum c makes the modes supported by Life Safety objects network visible, adds Unsilence options to the Life Safety Operation service, specifies the relationship between the Event Type and Event Parameter properties, adds new Accumulator and Pulse Converter object types, standardizes event notification priorities, defines an Abort Reason when insufficient segments are available, and adds new Error Codes and specifies their usage.
Addendum d adds clauses describing BACnet-EIB/KNX mapping. EIB/KNX (European Installation Bus/Konnex) is a prominent communication protocol that is widely used, primarily in Europe, for field-level residential and non-residential controls in lighting, shading, HVAC, energy management and security applications. The proposed addition to normative Annex H, Combining BACnet Networks with Non-BACnet Networks, standardizes the interface between BACnet and EIB/KNX systems.
Both drafts can be viewed by visiting our Addenda page.
CEN Ballot Results Announced (2/03) Brussels, Belgium. Manfred Schumacher, Secretary of CEN/TC247, Building Automation, Controls and Building Management, has announced the results of the CEN balloting that ran in parallel with the ISO enquiry discussed above. 19 CEN member countries responded to the ballot with positive votes. No country voted negatively. "To sum it up, it can be said that we have a unanimous positive result in Europe on prEN ISO 16484-5," Schumacher reported. The way is now clear for BACnet to be recognized as an official European Norm (EN).
"BACnet Today" Articles Now On-line (2/03) Atlanta, GA. If you haven't yet read the articles that appeared in the "BACnet Today" supplement to the October 2002 edition of the ASHRAE Journal, you may now access PDF versions of them through our Bibliography link, with the permission of Fred Turner, Editor of the Journal. Thanks, Fred!
BACnet Approved as an ISO Standard! (1/03) Chicago, Illinois. The long-awaited results from the International Organization for Standardization's (ISO) enquiry ballot are in: BACnet is now a full-fledged ISO standard, ISO 16484-5! This was announced by the ISO Central Secretariat on January 18, 2003, the date the ballot closed, and to the BACnet committee and general public at the ASHRAE Winter Meeting in Chicago. This BACnet milestone was the result of work with ISO's Technical Committee 205, Building Environment Design, which launched the enquiry following a letter ballot last spring. The countries that voted to approve BACnet were: Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Korea, Norway, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. There were no negative votes. Under ISO procedures this means that the Draft International Standard can go immediately to publication, skipping the "Final Draft International Standard" stage.
What does ISO standardization mean for BACnet?
"Adoption as a world standard through ISO is a vote of confidence in both the technical quality of BACnet and in the open process of enhancing and maintaining the standard over time. It is clear that our efforts to invite and encourage experts from around the world to join us in the ongoing maintenance of the standard have been very successful," said Steve Bushby, Chairman of SSPC 135.
"I expect that there will be a significant market impact, particularly in Europe and Asia. EU countries require that public projects follow CEN standards and members of the World Trade Organization have similar obligations to follow ISO standards. This will cause a significant increase in the worldwide demand for BACnet products," Bushby added.
Addendum b to be Published (1/03) Chicago, IL. ASHRAE has approved Addendum b for publication as an ASHRAE Standard. This new addendum improves the capabilities of BACnet devices to collect and share trend data between devices made by different manufacturers. For the text of this and other current addenda, visit the Addenda link.
"Trending is one of the features of BACnet that make it uniquely suited to commercial building control applications," said Steve Bushby, chairman of the BACnet committee. "This new addendum improves one of the features that has been making BACnet so successful around the world. This particular addendum originated in Canada and is one of many examples of how international collaboration has become a key component of maintaining the BACnet standard."
Addendum a was approved in Chicago for a second public review of "independent substantive changes." The scope of the review will be proposed changes to the way schedules are represented and maintained in BACnet systems. BACnet has always had the capability to represent even very complex schedules. However, if a schedule represents the combination of several independent events, it has not been possible for a workstation to read the Schedule object information and determine the individual components that were combined to make the overall schedule. The new features in Addendum a will make it possible to view and manipulate the schedules at this finer level of detail. Addendum a also contains several other enhancements to the standard.
Two additional addenda were also recommended for public review in Chicago. Addendum c contains eight new features including enhancements to the life safety objects and services and the ability to represent utility meters and other pulsed outputs devices. Addendum d describes how to interconnect BACnet devices with devices that use the EIB/Konnex protocol. In Europe there is a large installed base of EIB/Konnex products and defining a way to interconnect Konnex and BACnet devices was one of keys to the recent adoption of BACnet as an ISO standard.SSPC to Establish Liaison with ABOK (1/03) Chicago, Illinois. Perhaps in part a result of the recent ISO approval, international participation in the BACnet committee's activities during the ASHRAE Winter meeting was at an all-time high. In addition to participants from Canada, Finland, Germany, Japan, Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, the committee greeted for the first time a new delegation from the Russian Association of Engineers for Heating, Ventilation, Air-Conditioning, Heat Supply, and Building Thermal Physics (ABOK), the Russian association equivalent to ASHRAE. The delegation, led by ASHRAE Fellow Prof. Yuri Tabunschikov, included ABOK VP Marianna Brodatch, ABOK Head of the Collective Members Division, Andrey Golovin, Vice General Director of the ABOK-Press, Andrey Galusha, and the Chairman of the ABOK Intelligent Buildings Committee, Alexey Baranov.
Following discussions with the Russian delegation, the SSPC decided to establish a new liaison with the ABOK Intelligent Buildings Committee. "ABOK wants to improve the recognition and deployment of BACnet in Russia, including translating the standard into Russian, conducting training courses and developing aids for specifying engineers," said Bill Swan, SSPC vice chairman. "ABOK has also expressed an intention to become active in ISO/TC 205, Building Environment Design, the committee that sponsored the recent approval of BACnet as an ISO standard."
The liaison with ABOK is in addition to liaisons already established with both the European Community and Japan.CIBSE to Sponsor BACnet Seminar (1/03) London, UK. The Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) has announced a one-day seminar entitled "BACnet: The Door to Systems Integration". The seminar, scheduled to take place on Tuesday, February 11, 2003, will be held at the Building Services Engineering Centre in Balham, a London suburb. The session will be chaired by Richard Rooley, President-Elect of ASHRAE, and will feature presentations by Mike Newman of Cornell University, Past SSPC Chairman; Frank Mills, Environmental Design Consultant Ltd.; Keith Maloney, United Co-op; Jim Scholes, BEC Ltd.; Frank Schubert, MBS Software and BIG-EU; Hans-Werner Koch, Honeywell and BIG-EU; Andy Bowshell, Total Control; Nick Isherwood; and Howard Leigh, Automated Logic. In addition to the talks, a live BACnet demonstration is planned.
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