ATLANTA - Simplifying access to building energy and performance data is said to be the goal of a proposed addendum to the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) BACnet® standard.

ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 135-2004, "BACnet - A Data Communication Protocol for Building Automation and Control Networks," is an open, consensus-developed standard for building controls. At ASHRAE's 2004 Annual Meeting, the Standard 135 committee proposed addendum 135-2004c for public review. The proposed addendum specifies the use of "Web services" to provide a means to integrate building automation and control systems with other enterprise computing applications.

Web services provide for computer-to-computer applications many of the same advantages that the World Wide Web provides for human-to-computer information access, according to Bill Swan, committee chair.

Potential uses of the technology include simplifying access to building energy and performance data for inclusion in spreadsheets and other management reports; accessing equipment run-time data for use by maintenance management systems; allowing tenant control of space temperature setpoints; coupling of room scheduling with ventilation and comfort control; and more, says ASHRAE.

The proposed addendum is in two parts. The first proposes an Annex M to BACnet that defines the BACnet Web Services interface, BACnet/WS. This interface is intended to be communication "protocol neutral" in that the defined Web services can be used with any underlying protocol including BACnet, Konnex, MODBUS, LON, or legacy proprietary protocols. This has been accomplished by defining how to read and write the common elements of all building automation and control systems such as values, schedules, trend logs, and alarm information using services such as "getValue" and "setValue" that use a simple "path" to define the intended data source. An example of such a path would be: "/ABC HQ/Conference Room A/Space Temperature."

The proposed addendum also provides mechanisms for "localization" where certain types of data such as time, date, and numbers can be formatted according to local custom and language, said Swan. Text names and descriptions may also be accessed according to the local language.

The second part of the addendum contains an addition to BACnet's Annex H, combining BACnet Networks with Non-BACnet Networks, that prescribes how a gateway should be constructed that translates Web service requests specifically to and from BACnet messages.

The combined effect of the BACnet/WS annexes is to provide a set of generic Web services that can potentially interface to any building automation protocol as well as to describe exactly how this interface would work with underlying BACnet systems.

Publication date: 07/26/2004